Karl Darlow’s desperate to hold on to the goalkeeping jersey at Newcastle United – as Rob Elliot edges closer to a comeback.
Darlow has been between the posts for the club’s last 10 Championship fixtures.
I want to keep the shirt for at least the rest of the season. That’s my aim, that’s my goal.Karl Darlow
The goalkeeper – who saved two penalties in last Friday’s conversial 2-1 defeat to former club Nottingham Forest at the City Ground – has been keeping summer signing Matz Sels out of Rafa Benitez’s starting XI.
And Darlow faces more competition from Elliot, who is back in training after recovering from the cruciate ligament injury he suffered in March.
Elliot, 30, is likely to play in an Under-23 fixture this month as he works his way towards a first-team return.
However, Darlow is determined to stay in goal and play a “big part” in what he hopes will be a successful promotion push for the Championship leaders.
“I want to keep the shirt for at least the rest of the season,” said Darlow, who was recalled to the starting XI in late September.
“That’s my aim, that’s my goal.
“I want to get this club promoted. I want to be a big part of that, and that’s what I’m aiming for.”
Darlow, signed in the summer of 2014, made more than 100 league appearances for Forest.
And the 26-year-old feels he’s a better player for the Premier League experience he gained last season after Elliot suffered his season-ending injury.
“I think I’ve progressed and come back a better goalkeeper,” said Darlow, loaned back to Forest for the 2014-15 season.
“I’m obviously going to get better as a goalkeeper as I get older.
“When I came in at Forest I was young. I had the No 1 spot, and I played a fair amount of games here which has set me up nicely to go on.
“Obviously, with Newcastle being in the Premier League last year, it was good for me. It was a good experience, and that’s where we want to get back to and hopefully we can build again and get up there.”
Newcastle lead the Championship by a point ahead of the Birmingham game after successive league defeats.
“It’s going to be tight at the top,” said Darlow. “We know it’s a tough, tough league, and there’s plenty of games left to be played.
“We’re not even halfway through, so to be where we are is very good and we need to make sure we can get going again and we know we’ve got a lot of strength in this team.
“It’s a long, old season, and we’re still in a very good position. Hopefully, we can get a positive result.”
Meanwhile, United goalkeeper Tim Krul, on a season-long loan at Ajax, is close to a first-team return after playing four reserves.
Krul ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament playing for Holland in October 2014.
The 28-year-old said on Twitter: “4 games in 2 weeks done for Ajax U21. Feeling strong!”