ALAN Pardew says he has no concerns about Newcastle United’s stand-in goalkeeper Rob Elliot.
Elliot is set for an extended run in the side in the absence of No1 Tim Krul, sidelined until the New Year with an ankle problem.
And Elliot faces the unenviable task of keeping the likes of Diego Costa, Didier Drogba and Loic Remy off the scoresheet in tomorrow’s meeting between Newcastle and Chelsea at St James’s Park.
“I’m hoping for a big game from him on Saturday, and he’ll need to have one because these are a good team,” said United manager Pardew.
Elliot, 28, has himself been carrying an injury, while his wife is expecting a baby.
And Pardew had taken three goalkeepers to Burnley on Tuesday night – Jak Alnwick and Freddie Woodman also travelled – in case Elliot had had to return to Tyneside.
As it was, Elliot played in the game, which ended 1-1.
But the Republic of Ireland international didn’t get close to stopping George Boyd’s first-half strike at Turf Moor, where a goal from Papiss Demba Cisse earned Newcastle a point.
And Pardew admitted he had been “rusty” three days earlier against West Ham United.
But he is confident Elliot can keep Premier League leaders Chelsea at bay.
“Fortunately, the good news is that there seems to be a bit of a lull in the pregnancy, so we’re not on tenterhooks,” said Pardew.
“That’s good news because Rob is very important to us. He’s currently our No1.
“We’re not particularly well covered in the goalkeeping area right now, but it won’t be a problem this weekend.
“The injury that he’s been carrying slightly seems to have cleared up. He had some big tests at Burnley in terms of his kicking, so we’re really pleased with that, and these games should have done him good.”
Meanwhile, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho will be without suspended midfielder Nemanja Matic.
“That’s a big boost,” said Pardew. “I think his presence and technical ability in front of that back four has been a key to some of their victories.”