Karl Darlow outlines what Newcastle MUST do in the Championship '“ or else
Karl Darlow's been there, done that, got the Championship T-shirt.
And the goalkeeper feels Newcastle United CAN prosper in English football’s second tier – if the club’s players can adjust mentally and physically to the demands of the division.
Darlow could start next season between the posts for the relegated club with No1 Tim Krul recovering from knee surgery and Rob Elliot ruled out until late this year.
The 25-year-old has experience of the fiercely-competitive league from his time with former club Nottingham Forest.
Darlow feels the Championship will be as much of a test of the players mental attitude as their technical ability.
“I’ve got a lot of experience in the Championship, and it’s a very tough league,” said Darlow, who impressed in the latter part of the season after Elliot suffered a season-ending knee injury.
“Every game is a mental test, and every game is a scrap.
“You play Tuesday nights at difficult places, and it’s about grinding out results more than anything else really.
“It’s hard to look at the bigger picture when you’re in that league – it’s about grinding out results and trying to build momentum.
“But the quality we’ve got in this squad is far superior to anything else in the Championship, and that should stand us in good stead.
“If we can keep what we’ve got, and also keep the manager, then we should be fine.”
If United’s players – who were found wanting for much of last season – can take to the field with the right attitude, then Darlow belives their ability can take them back into the Premier League at the first attempt.
“There’ll be a lot of talk about character and attitude, but ability is important as well,” said Darlow, who hopes manager Rafa Benitez will stay at the club.
“Over the course of a season, the best teams will come to the top, and we have to remember that.
“If we can keep the quality that we’ve got, then we should be able to go through that league.
“We might need to add a few because you need a bigger squad.
“The matches take their toll when you’re playing Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday, Tuesday.”
Benitez could formally agree to stay on at St James’s Park this week after lengthy talks with the club’s hierarchy since Newcaslte’s fate was confirmed.
The 56-year-old wants control of incomings and outgoings and a promise of investment in the squad over the next two transfer windows.
“It’ll be interesting to see what happens, but it’s up to the board and the manager to see what they want to do, player-wise,” said Darlow.
“If we keep the majority of the lads here, I don’t think we’ll have a problem next year.”