Karl Darlow’s finally in the thick of it at Newcastle – and he has the bruises to prove it

Karl Darlow
Karl Darlow
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Karl Darlow says he’s ready to deal with everything the Championship throws at him – after a bruising return to the starting XI.

The goalkeeper was recalled by Rafa Benitez in late September.

I am feeling confident right now. Since I’ve come into the team we’ve won six on the bounce in the league, and you can’t ask for any more than that really.

Karl Darlow

And Newcastle United have won all six league games Darlow has started since replacing Matz Sels between the posts.

Benitez’s side lead the division by three points ahead of tomorrow’s home game against Cardiff City.

“I am feeling confident right now,” said Darlow

“Since I’ve come into the team, we’ve won six on the bounce in the league, and you can’t ask for any more than that really.

“It’s just been nice to be playing and be involved in this run that we’re on. Hopefully, we can continue that too.”

Sels was dropped after the club’s 1-1 draw against Aston Villa at Villa Park.

Darlow has since taken his chance with both hands.

The 26-year-old had experienced the Championship before joining Newcastle two years ago.

Darlow knows the division well from his time at Nottingham Forest, and he’s been able to use that experience at United.

The physicality of the division has not be a problem for Darlow.

“As a goalkeeper who’s played in the Championship before, you’re used to getting battered and hit around,” he said.

“It’s nice to feel it sometimes, because then you know you’ve been in a game the next day.

“I’m not too bothered about that at all – I’m sure I’ll lay a fair bit of muscle on opposition players in games, don’t worry about that.”

Darlow made two important saves to deny Paul Gallagher in last weekend’s 2-1 win over Preston North End at Deepdale.

Simon Grayson’s side had the better of the first half, but striker Aleksandar Mitrovic netted twice after the break to claim all three points for Newcastle.

“It was a tough game,” said Darlow.

“I was going to get clattered at some point, because they were just lumping balls into the box. That seems to be the tactic against us away from home.

“But we were equally as aggressive out on the field, and I think that was important for helping see us through to get the win.”

Meanwhile, forward Ayoze Perez has been talking about the respect that United’s players have for manager Benitez, one of European football’s most experienced coaches.

Benitez has managed Real Madrid, Liverpool, Chelsea and Napoli during his long and successful career.

And Perez – who hopes to return to the starting XI against Cardiff – says when his Spanish countryman speaks in the dressing room, everyone listens.

“It’s 100% focus when he speaks,” said Perez

“We know what he has done in his career – it has been a big career.

“He knows everything about football so you have to learn from him.

“That’s what we are doing. We are enjoying the Championship, we’re top of the table and we can stay there.

“Everything is going really well.

“The team is doing well, playing well, playing good football and we have good confidence.

“There’s still a long way to go, but we’re doing well and we are happy to be top of the table.”

Perez – who came off the bench at Deepdale – has scored three goals from his last two appearances at St James’s Park.