Derek McInnes encourages new Aberdeen keeper to make most of loan

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes. Picture: SNS/Paul Devlin
Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes. Picture: SNS/Paul Devlin
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Derek McInnes has urged new goalkeeper Freddie Woodman to grab his Pittodrie chance with two hands like former Don Danny Ward.

The Aberdeen boss has signed Woodman from Newcastle on loan deal until the end of the season after regular number one Joe Lewis was forced to undergo knee surgery.

The England Under-20s World Cup winner will now compete with Danny Rogers, but McInnes has made it clear the starting slot is there to be won.

And he told the 20-year-old - who spent the second half of last season on loan at Kilmarnock - to look no further than Liverpool stopper Ward, who went on to star for Wales at Euro 2016 and clinch play-off triumph with Huddersfield last season after a successful stint in the Granite City.

“I’m delighted to get Freddie with us,” McInnes told RedTV. “He had an impressive loan at Kilmarnock and we feel he’s going to be a good addition to us.

“It’s always difficult for a goalkeeper when you start to make that judgement call, but he’s got a good reputation. He’s very driven, he’s got a plan for his career.

“When I look at him I see a lot of similarities with Danny Ward. Danny came here after only playing three games for Morecambe but - having watched him closely in the under-23’s at Liverpool - we just had a feeling about him.

“You don’t really know how younger players deal with the pressure and demands of working at first-team level, but both Danny and Freddie have had that level of loan time.

“It’s not as if Freddie is out the picture this season with Newcastle and they see him as a future goalkeeper for them, so this loan become really important.”

Lewis had to go under the knife after he was involved with a collision with team-mate Anthony O’Connor during last month’s defeat to Rangers at Ibrox.

But McInnes is hopeful his first-choice stopper will be back soon, saying: “The good news with Joe is he’s had his operation and he’s on his way back. Hopefully that’s straight-forward.”

Aberdeen have responded to that setback in Govan by blasting seven goals past Kilmarnock and Ross County.

Now McInnes wants that hot streak to continue when they host Hamilton on Saturday.

“It was important that we looked at this week ahead of the cup game next Saturday and tried to pick up nine points,” said the Dons boss. “We’ve beat a very good Kilmarnock team, who hadn’t lost away from home under Steve Clarke.

“We went up to Dingwall and won during the week against a team fighting for survival and I thought we dealt with that very comfortably.

“Now we have a home game against Hamilton, another team fighting at the bottom. At this stage of the season, whether it’s teams trying to get into Europe, the top six or stay in the league, there’s a lot on each game. Hopefully we can get on top of Hamilton and win the game.”