Jak Alnwick

By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter

For those not going away with their countries, the current international break provides an opportunity for rest and reflection and Jak Alnwick certainly has plenty to digest.

The young goalkeeper has had a whirlwind few days after being catapulted into the first-team squad against Manchester United on Sunday before helping Newcastle's under-21s win against Aston Villa at Villa Park on Monday.

With Tim Krul and Rob Elliot still recovering from elbow and groin injuries respectively, Alnwick could even be involved again against Sunderland - the side he left to join the Magpies in 2008 - later this month.

Either way, the ex-England under-18 international - who was watched by manager Alan Pardew and senior goalkeeper coach Andy Woodman against the Villans - has loved every minute of the last week or so.

"It's been very good," he told nufc.co.uk after Monday night's 2-1 win, when he continued his fine form at second-string level this term.

"Obviously on Sunday I was on the bench, a little bit unexpectedly but with goalkeeping you've got to be patient and these things do happen, and I think it was good for me to play a Reserve game straight after it.

"It brings you down to earth a little bit - not that I thought that I needed it, but it's a good stepping stone. And I thought Monday night was very good; we defended really well and we were very unlucky to concede because we were solid for the whole game.

"I feel like I did well, helped out by the defence, and obviously it's good to impress in front of the gaffer and Andy and it's good to keep playing well for the Reserves."

Elliot came off at half-time in last Thursday night's Europa League win over Bordeaux, and within a few hours Alnwick had been informed that he would be in the squad against the Red Devils - and just one injury or red card away from facing Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Paul Scholes and co.

"I kind of knew straight away because Robbie got injured and he wasnt getting a scan until Monday morning," the youngster explained. "They spoke to me straight away and Woody said 'make sure you're ready because you're going to be on the bench.'

"I'm not one to get really nervous or anything like that but a couple of thoughts are going through your head; if anything happens, you have to come on."

And something very nearly did happen, as Danny Welbeck went round Steve Harper in the first half but stayed on his feet as the keeper challenged him and ended up slotting wide of the goal.

"It was funny because Harps actually said to me after the game, he thought I was on," 19-year-old Alnwick smiled.

"He clipped him, he said, and if he had gone down he was off. It was a bit heart in mouth but you've always got to be ready as a goalkeeper and I felt like I was ready.

"I'd had a good warm-up and I feel like I'm ready for anything that's thrown at me."