Newcastle United were in safe hands in the Championship last season with Karl Darlow between the posts.
But it’s almost six months since the goalkeeper last made a league appearance for the club.
Darlow was outstanding between the posts during the club’s Championship-winning campaign.
However, fit-again Rob Elliot was recalled to Newcastle’s starting XI for the final three games of the season – and Darlow has only played one cup game since then.
Elliot was handed the No 1 jersey previously worn by Tim Krul in August.
“Of course, it’s been a frustrating start for me,” said Darlow, speaking at the Newcastle United Foundation’s 125 Years United dinner.
“I’ve wanted to play, but it’s the manager’s decision, so I have to stick by it, just keep working hard on the training ground and hope things improve for myself.
“But I’m so pleased for the lads, because we worked so hard last season to get up, and to see them doing well in the Premier League is excellent.”
Darlow, linked with a move away from Newcastle in the summer, hasn’t spoken to manager Rafa Benitez about his situation in recent months.
The 27-year-old has instead focused on impressing United’s manager – who had hoped to sign a goalkeeper in the summer transfer window – in training.
I want to play first-team football for this club in the Premier League, and it’s up to me to convince the manager I should be.Karl Darlow
“Since pre-season, we haven’t really spoken about it,” said Darlow. “All I can do is to keep working hard on the training ground.
“I want to play first-team football for this club in the Premier League, and it’s up to me to convince the manager I should be.
“Obviously, there was a lot of speculation in the summer about whether I would be leaving or staying or whatever, but that’s part and parcel of football. I know that.
“I’m mature enough just to get on with that, realise I’m here and that my job’s to support the squad week in, week out in the Premier League, hope we get the right results and try to push for another chance.”
Darlow made nine Premier League appearances for the club in the 2015-16 season.
“I relish the chance to play Premier League football again,” said Darlow, signed from Nottingham Forest in a double deal with Jamaal Lascelles in 2014.
“It’s what I want to do, and I’ll keep trying my hardest to make it a reality again.”
Newcastle are 11th in the Premier League ahead of Saturday evening’s televised game against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
“I think we’d have taken 14 points after 11 games if you’d offered it to us at the start of the season,” said Darlow.
“We’ve made a solid, if not spectacular, start to the season.
“We’ve been very good bar the last two games (against Bournemouth and Burnley), which could have gone either way in all honesty.
“We’ve made a really good start to the season.
“It’s a tough league, and it’s a long, old season that we have to battle our way through.
“If you’d asked us if we’d have taken the points we have now at the start of the season, you’d have to say we’d have taken it and then said we can build from that strong position.
“The Premier League’s always tough, so we just have to keep our heads and stay calm, even when we suffer a couple of defeats here and there.
“You can’t afford to get too up or down throughout the season.
“We were in the top six a few weeks ago. Now we’re back in mid-table, but we know we can get back up to those heights if we put a run of performances together and really lift ourselves back up.”
Benitez, Darlow and a number of players attended last week’s 125 Years United dinner, which recognised the unsung community heroes helped by the club’s Foundation. The event, staged in a marquee on Exhibition Park, Newcastle, also celebrated the club’s 125th birthday.
“It’s a great event,” said Darlow. “I was here last year too, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s nice to have the lads around to come and support what’s going on.
“It’s a massive achievement for the club to reach its 125th anniversary, and it shows the history and success of this football club.
“It shows where it has come from to the massive club it is now. A massive marquee and a celebration like this is the perfect way to mark the occasion, and also recognise the work the Foundation does.
“I’ve been catching up with some former players and getting to know some who I didn’t know before, so it’s a good way for players old and new to connect.”
For more information about the Newcastle United Foundation and its work, go to nufoundation.org.uk