Steve Cooper wants Freddie to go from strength to strength
Steve Cooper believes Freddie Woodman can go from strength to strength after sealing his loan return to Swansea City from Newcastle.
The 23-year-old made a big impression in SA1 last year, keeping 12 clean sheets in 43 appearances, while saving three of the five penalties he faced.
Head coach and player had both made clear their desire to work together again at Swansea and – having penned a year extension to his deal on Tyneside, Woodman will spend the 2020-21 campaign at the Liberty Stadium.
Cooper has no doubt the Under-20 World Cup winner returns to South Wales a better player than when he first arrived a year ago, and has challenged Woodman to step up again as he battles Steven Benda and Josh Gould for the number one jersey.
“Freddie’s journey with us s not finished. We felt that, and he did too,” said the Swans boss.
“From long before now, if there was any chance to keep Freddie we wanted it, and he reciprocated that.
“He fitted in brilliantly last year, he quickly became popular with his team-mates, the supporters and the staff. It just made complete sense to keep that going.
“I believe we get a better goalkeeper now than we did 12 months ago, because of the opportunities he took when they were given to him last year.
“He is a year further on, and his challenge is to not stand still and keep improving, to be better than he was last year.
“He knows he has been number one last year, that means you have to build your resilience and concentration. There is no rest, you are in the team in a position you are expected to perform in.
“You are always under scrutiny in goal, you get to learn that best by playing and he grabbed that chance literally with both hands.
“He has shown he can do it, now he needs to do it again and be better. We really believe in him and he believes in what we are doing so let’s crack on.”
Woodman’s 2019-20 season was brought to a premature conclusion when he suffered a hip injury in the 1-0 defeat to Leeds, ensuring he missed the dramatic finale to the season and the play-off semi-final meetings with Brentford.
But Cooper says the keeper is over that problem, and will be fit and raring to go when the Swans report for pre-season duty later this month.
“He is fine, I spoke to him a lot over the break and I think he has been diving around his back garden from what I can gather,” said Cooper with a chuckle.
“So, he’ll be ready to go when we come back in.”