Aiden Grant

By Dan King - Newcastle United Communications Officer
In Sandpoort

Measuring up at 6ft 6ins tall already, 16-year-old goalkeeper Aidan Grant is growing up quickly in every sense of the word.

But the boyhood Newcastle fan admits training with the likes of Joey Barton on the Development Squad tour of Holland is still a "surreal" experience.

With Jak Alnwick on international duty in Colombia ahead of England's Under-20s World Cup campaign, Grant has been chosen to provide cover for Ole Soderberg in the Netherlands having signed a first-year scholarship with the club this summer.

A former Westoe Crown Primary and Harton Technology College pupil, Grant is rated very highly by Academy goalkeeping coach Chris Terpcou and will compete with Jonathan MItchell and Alex Baird for the number one jersey in the under-18s in the forthcoming campaign.

"This is my first ever interview," he said nervously as caught up with him at the club's Dutch base, but he fielded the questions in the same confident manner that he has dealt with shots and crosses since first joining United three years ago.

He explained: "I've always been a goalkeeper. I was eight when I started for my boys' club, Whiteleas in South Shields.

"I went down for training and the coach asked me what position I played. I said 'defender, that sort of area' - so he tried me in goal!"

Grant - who represented United in the Manchester United Premier Cup World Finals last summer - is still growing, but is remarkably agile for his height and has impressed in training out in Holland.

He added: "When I was little, I was quite a large lad but since then I've lost the weight and grown. I've always been the tallest in my age group, so I'm used to being the tall one.

"Signing my scholarship has been great because now I'm coming in full-time, which is really good for me. Chris is a good coach who knows what he's talking about, and he's helped me through a lot of things.

"Ever since coming to Newcastle, I've loved it. It's always been my dream because this is my club.

"I've been a Newcastle fan all my life. I've come to games and watched them, so me coming away with some first-teamers who I used to watch on the telly is amazing.

"It's been surreal. I've been coming out to train and facing shots from Joey Barton. He's got such great talent and it's been great to watch him and try to match him."