Karl Darlow has revealed how close he came to leaving Newcastle United – after winning his place back in Rafa Benitez’s side.
Darlow has started the club’s last two Premier League games.
And the goalkeeper hopes to keep his place for this afternoon’s home game against Leicester City.
Darlow, however, was made available for transfer by manager Benitez in the summer and Rob Elliot started the season in goal.
And the 27-year-old, outstanding in the Championship last season, has admitted that he was “incredibly close” to joining Middlesbrough, who bid £5million for him.
Asked if he thought he’d played his last game for Newcastle, Darlow said: “Potentially, I did think I’d played my last game.
I was incredibly close to leaving. At the time I saw it as business when the manager told me. That’s the way to deal with it. That’s how it was explained to me.Karl Darlow
“It has been pretty well documented – the position I was in during the summer, and what was happening, but playing for Newcastle was something I never gave up on.
“When the transfer window closed, it was time to knuckle down, but looking back, it was a tough period for myself. I’ve come through it and I’m feeling good.
“Hopefully, I can push on again. I’m back in the team and see if I can kick on.”
Asked how close he came to leaving, Darlow added: “I was incredibly close to leaving. At the time I saw it as business when the manager told me. That’s the way to deal with it. That’s how it was explained to me.
“I was pretty close to leaving, yes (to Middlesbrough).
“I hadn’t got as far as my farewells to my team-mates.
“I had met and spoken to their manager (Garry Monk), and it was all ready to go.
“Newcastle were waiting on signing another goalkeeper, and it fell through for another reason.
“Thankfully, it did, because I’m still here and playing in the team again. It’s all good for me.”
On his time out of the starting XI, Darlow added: “I played a lot last season – it’s been a frustrating start to the season for me.
“It’s a case of having to deal with it mentally more than anything. You have to stay positive (and)drive yourself back in the team. You always try to impress in training.
“I always knew it was up to me to get back in. I’d have liked to have started the season, but I like to think I have handled things in the right way. This is what happens in football.”
Elliot must now try to dislodge Darlow.
“The competition’s been fine between Rob and I – it’s all good,” said Darlow. “We know at the end of the day it is the manager’s call what happens and who plays. It’s just a case of not taking it too personally.
“It happens all the time with the outfield players. That’s the way you deal with it.”
Darlow was told he was back in the team just a few hours before Newcastle took on West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns late last month.
“It was just the day before actually, we were working on set pieces when he called me back in,” said Darlow.
“He said he was considering playing me, and then it was lunchtime on the day he confirmed I was starting.
“Rob was standing next to me and it was just a case of ‘let’s get on with it’.”