Karl Darlow was happy to help Newcastle United kick off the year in style – and put a difficult few weeks behind him.
Darlow was dropped last month after making a mistake against Everton. But the goalkeeper was recalled to the starting XI late last month after Rob Elliot suffered a thigh injury.
And Darlow made a series of superb saves in the club’s 1-0 New Year’s Day win over Stoke City. It was also a second successive clean sheet for the team, which was held to a goalless home draw by Brighton and Hove Albion late last month.
Asked about his return to the team, Darlow said: “Of course, it’s been pleasing for me recently. I just want to help the team do well and to help us climb this league.
“Time and time again the manager has said that it’s a squad game, and we know, as players, that we need to all be ready to come in and be ready to come in and help out when we can.
“We’ve got to continue fighting for one another, which we do keep doing.”
Darlow twice denied Mame Diouf late in the game and also stopped efforts from Maxim Choupo-Moting and Charlie Adam at the bet365 Stadium.
“I was pleased to get some reaction saves, some instinctive ones – the ones we work on in training,” said Darlow, who came close to leaving United last summer.
“They were good saves and I was pleased to help the team get threew points.”
The game was played amid a downpour at the bet365 Stadium.
“It’s not great for a goalkeeper when conditions are like that here,” said Darlow. “It’s quite tough when it starts hammering it down.
“It was a good defensive display again. We were solid throughout and that gave us a base from which we could attack.”
Newcastle – who take on Luton Town at St James’s Park on Saturday in a third-round FA Cup tie – have started the year as they mean to go on.
“Definitely, it’s the perfect way to start,” said Darlow. “It was a massive game given the positions of both teams in the table.
“The fight we showed during the game, as well as the passion and desire throughout, really sums up what this group is about.
“As long as we’re in the game, we’ll keep going, and we didn’t allow our focus to drop even though we missed chances.
“We always want to make sure we’re in a position to win the game. We fought until the end, dealt with all the high balls and crosses on what was a horrible day.
“It goes to show we’re ready for the fight, and we’re happy for the three points.”
After back to back away wins, United, 13th in the Premier League, now need to address their home form.
“We need to keep gaining momentum and confidence,” said Darlow. “It’s a different style of play away from home to how we play at home, but as long as we keep picking up points, then it doesn’t matter whether we pick them up at home or away from home.
“We’ll be happy as long as we can keep climbing the table and making sure we stay in the Premier League.”
While the league is the club’s No 1 priority, Darlow insists a run in the FA Cup would be good for confidence.
“We want to do our best in every single match,” said Darlow. “The Premier League may be our priority, because we desperately want to stay in this division, but a good run in the FA Cup’s good for confidence and good for the squad. Hopefully, we can do well in that.”