Steve McClaren has warned Karl Darlow that Rob Elliot will be hard to dislodge between the posts after his heroics.
The Newcastle United goalkeeper single-handedly kept Bournemouth at bay at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday.
And a first-half goal from Ayoze Perez saw McClaren’s side claim an unlikely 1-0 win and climb out of the Premier League’s relegation zone.
Head coach McClaren hopes to have Darlow – who started the season as the club’s second-choice goalkeeper – back from an ankle problem later this month, possibly in time for the home game against Leicester City on November 21.
But the 25-year-old won’t walk into the team given the form of Elliot, who was yesterday named in Republic of Ireland’s 30-man squad for their Euro 16 play-off against Bosnia.
“He’s the man in the goal at the moment,” said McClaren. “We’ll wrap him in cotton wool and try to get him out for the next game.”
Elliot’s future had looked to lie away from St James’s Park in the summer when he found himself the club’s third-choice goalkeeper, but injuries to Darlow and No 1 Tim Krul – who is out for the season with a knee injury – have given him an unexpected chance.
And McClaren has hailed the former Charlton Athetlic player’s attitude.
“We always say the subs are the most important, because it’s a squad game and you’ve seen it with Bournemouth,” he said.
“Injuries are a big part of it (playing in the Premier League), so your squads are important. When we missed Darlow and Tim Krul, Robbie Elliot came in.
“But he’s been terrific from day one. He’s been good around the place, experienced and a good talker. He got us three points.”
For his part, Elliot felt the Bournemouth game was one of the “toughest” of his career.
Elliot stopped four first-half efforts from Joshua King, and also denied former team-mate Dan Gosling and Matt Ritchie either side of the break.
“It was tough, one of the toughest I have played in,” said Elliot, who signed a new long-term contract at the club last year.
“The amount of crosses, shots, blocks, that were coming into our box – (it was) a bit like the Alamo.
“I think the Stoke game I had one save and it was the opposite, especially against a very good Bournemouth side who I thought were excellent.
“I think it was just that character and determination, which maybe we have lacked before. Maybe have lost our way in games when things haven’t gone our way.”
Elliot aggravated a thigh problem in the goalless draw against Stoke City last month, and the club were ready to go to the Premier League to ask permission for an emergency goalkeeper loan.
Freddie Woodman, 18, was also put on standby to play, while Brendan Pearson was promoted to the first-team squad as back-up.
However, Elliot – who struggled to kick with his left foot against Stoke – quickly recovered and was passed fit to play late in the week, and will now be assessed by the Newcastle medical staff before decising whether he can link up with Ireland.
Asked how close he was to being ruled out of the game, he said: “If you ask the manager, I was always playing.
“If you ask the doctor, then I probably wasn’t playing last week either.
“I was always going to play and I didn’t know how good or bad it was going to be. It wasn’t too bad. I just had to get underneath the ball and lift it, you just don’t want to let the team down.
“I said to the manager ‘if you want me to play, I will play, but just so long as I’m not going to hinder the team’.
“I’m going to go and see the specialist and hopefully get some good news off him.”