Newcastle United head coach Steve Bruce revealed in his post-match press conference after the pre-season victory over Norwich City that goalkeeper Freddie Woodman is in 'pole position' to start The Magpies' season-opener against West Ham United at St James' Park on Sunday.
With Martin Dubravka out of action due to a foot injury and Karl Darlow a serious doubt having not played a single minute in pre-season after recovering from Covid-19 and only just returning to light training, Woodman will feel he can step up to the challenge that lies ahead.
A golden glove winner to Newcastle number one
Woodman was a standout performer throughout his time in south Wales and last season, earned the 'Golden Glove' award after he finished the season with 20 clean sheets - two ahead of Norwich City goalkeeper Tim Krul, who was his former mentor on Tyneside during his teenage years.
The 24-year-old was close to joining AFC Bournemouth on loan for the 2021/22 campaign, before his medical was halted after the injury to Dubravka confirmed the Slovakian will miss the start of the season to undergo foot surgery.
With the absences of Dubravka and Darlow, Woodman looks poised for an opportunity of a lifetime.
Woodman set for top-flight debut
In between the sticks, Woodman has featured the most for the Toon Army in their pre-season fixtures, with over 225 minutes to his name, while fellow keepers Mark Gillespie (135) and 20-year-old Dan Langley (180) also gained valuable minutes.
Of the four pre-season matches played, Woodman was particularly impressive against fellow Premier League side Norwich, with a solid first-half display as the shot-stopper denied The Canaries on a number of occasions as Bruce's side cruised to a 3-0 win courtesy of Matt Ritchie and Dwight Gayle's double.
Speaking after the match, Bruce confirmed that Woodman looks set to make his eagerly anticipated debut this weekend. He said: "Yes he has put himself in pole position, simply because of the problems we have with Martin Dubravka and Karl Darlow.
"So he is in pole position [to start against West Ham] and I thought he did very well. He was mature in his performance. I am very pleased with him."