Karl Darlow’s ready to challenge Rob Elliot for the goalkeeping jersey at Newcastle United – and put a frustrating few months behind him.
Darlow made his comeback from a long-term ankle injury this week.
And the 25-year-old could be on the bench for Saturday’s Premier League game against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
Darlow, signed last year from Nottingham Forest, damaged ankle ligaments soon after making his club debut in a Capital One Cup tie against Northampton Town in late August.
United No 1 Tim Krul has since suffered a season-ending knee injury, while Elliot has been carrying a thigh problem.
Now close to full fitness after coming through a Under-21 Premier League game, Darlow is ready to challenge Elliot for a place the team.
“The last couple of months have been frustrating, but I knew what I was working towards,” said Darlow.
“It was a training ground injury. I just went over on my ankle and did three ligaments. It was a frustrating time.”
“Obviously, there’s an opportunity there for me in the first team, so hopefully playing in games like this, and being back training, will prove I’m ready to play.”
Darlow kept a clean sheet in a goalless draw against West Bromwich Albion’s Under-21s on Monday.
And he feels he is ready to play if selected by McClaren, who also has 18-year-old Freddie Woodman, son of Palace goalkeeping coach Andy, available for the club’s visit to Selhurst Park.
“I got through the game,” said Darlow. “I’m a little bit sore, but I should be fit.”
Darlow was loaned back to Forest for last season after joining Newcastle in a double deal with defender Jamaal Lascelles estimated to be worth around £6million.