By Russell Edge
Newcastle United boss Rafael Benitez has revealed that Freddie Woodman is one of a trio of youngsters who have been regularly been involved in the senior side’s training sessions.
The England under-21 international, who has two appearances for them, shot to fame over the summer with his performances for the Three Lions’ under-20 side in their World Cup winning campaign.
He is yet to make an appearance for the first team at St James’ Park, but has made four substitute appearances this season.
The 20-year-old has been joined in training with the first team by 21-year-olds Jamie Sterry, who has five senior appearances, and Dan Barlaser, who recently signed a new two-year contract extension with three first team outings under his belt.
Benitez said that he has been in constant contact with the trio and has been monitoring their performances for the under-23 side, with all three of them regular fixtures in Peter Beardsley’s side.
However he insists that despite their potential, he must focus on ensuring the first team secure their place in the Premier League before allowing the youth a chance to break through.
The Spanish manager told the Chronicle: “We are keeping an eye on things and we stay in contact.
“We have a lot of communication with them (Woodman, Sterry and Barlaser).
“We also need some time to settle down in the Premier League and after that, we have more time to continue working closely with them.
“If the young players don’t have the desire and ambition and can dream of playing for the first team, it means something is wrong.
“They have to realise for anyone to have a chance is to keep working hard. It’s not just about winning games. It’s working hard and improving every single day in training.”
Newcastle’s reserve side are in action on Tuesday night against Sparta Prague in the Premier League International Cup, while the senior side’s next match sees them travel to Turf Moor to take on a Burnley side beaten 3-0 by Manchester City over the weekend.
In other Newcastle United news, Ian Wright has revealed what he believes the Magpies must look to achieve this season.