Could Tim Krul have a future at Newcastle?
Tim Krul's out of sight in Holland, but he's not out of mind.
The goalkeeper has followed Newcastle United's fortunes in the Championship closely from across the North Sea.
And Rafa Benitez and his staff have followed Krul's fortunes closely too.
The 28-year-old was loaned out this season – to Ajax and then AZ Alkmaar – to get games after recovering from the ruptured anterior cruciate ligament he suffered playing for Holland 17 months ago.
Crucially, he's finally getting games. He needed them.
Krul also has the Dutch Cup final to look forward, having saved the penalty which put AZ into next month's showpiece.
Benitez loaned Krul – who has spoken to the Gazette about his long road back to fitness – as he wasn't fit for the start of the Championship campaign.
In his absence, Karl Darlow has established himself as Benitez's first-choice goalkeeper.
Darlow ousted Matz Sels from between the posts in late September and has since kept fit-again Rob Elliot – who suffered the same injury as Krul playing for the Republic of Ireland last year – out of his team.
There's a question mark above Sels, who will need more time to adjust to the demands of English football.
Will Benitez give him that opportunity should the club win promotion?
And Elliot, 30, won't want to spend another season on the bench at this stage of his career whatever division the club is in next season.
Then there's 20-year-old Freddie Woodman, one of the brightest goalkeeping prospects in the country.
Woodman, on loan at Kilmarnock, will most likely be farmed out again next season for more first-team experience.
Benitez has concerns about other areas of his squad – the club would need at least half a dozen new players in the event of promotion – but he is spoilt for choice between the posts.
Krul, however, has made more top-flight appearances – 157 – than any of his rivals, and he proved himself to be one of the division's most capable goalkeepers during the club's six-year stay in the Premier League.
So where does Krul – who has another year on his United contract – potentially fit in?
We won't know until the summer.
But Krul is finally back in goal. And that's good for him. It should be good for Newcastle too.
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