Rob Elliot’s ready to put eight long months of rehabilitation behind him – and take a big step forward at Newcastle United.
The goalkeeper will make his comeback in tonight’s Under-23 game against Aston Villa at St James’s Park.
Elliot ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament on Republic of Ireland duty in March.
The injury saw the 30-year-old – who signed a new long-term deal at United in August – missed out on a place in the Republic’s squad for Euro 2016.
Elliot, for his part, is just glad to be ready to take to the field again.
“I feel good,” he said. “I spoke to Simon Smith and the manager (Rafa Benitez) the other day, and they asked how I was.
“I just said that I feel good. I feel normal – I don’t feel like I’m injured.
“It’s just a case of playing the reserve game, getting used to playing on a big pitch again – the passes and the distribution, sweeping things up – and just going from there.
“It’s the final box to tick. I’ve practised everything in training. I’ve done everything in the gym.
“It’s been just over eight months now, so it’s been a long time.
“It’ll be good to take my name off the injured list and hopefully be back in the plans to get back in with the first team.
“It’ll be good to go back and play at St James’s and get my bearings back again.
“It’s great walking out there, and even in a reserve game that will be great.
“It’ll feel like I’m taking off from where I left off from.”
Elliot had replaced the injured Tim Krul in goal late last year.
Holland international Krul, on a season-long loan at Ajax, also suffered a cruciate ligament injury playing for his country.