Rafa Benitez planning goalkeeping shake-up at Newcastle as Karl Darlow and Rob Elliot sweat on Premier League chance

Rob Elliot
Rob Elliot
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Rafa Benitez is planning a goalkeeping shake-up at Newcastle United – as Pepe Reina considers a return to England.

Karl Darlow had a strong season between the posts in the Championship.

But the 26-year-old could start the new Premier League season on the bench.

Rob Elliot – who has recovered from a long-term knee injury – started the final three games of the club’s title-winning season.

However, Elliot, like Darlow, knows Benitez – who also has Matz Sels, Tim Krul and Freddie Woodman at the club – could bring in a new first-choice goalkeeper.

Sels, signed from Anderlecht last summer, could leave the club this summer after a frustrating first season at United.

Newcastle have have been repeatedly linked with a move for Napoli’s Pepe Reina.

Benitez previously signed Reina at Liverpool and Napoli, and United’s manager spoke warmly about the 34-year-old last season.

Reina – who has a year left on his deal – is in talks over a new contract at the Serie A club.

The Spain international’s preference is to stay at Napoli, according Manuel Garcia Quillon, his agent.

Quillon, however, has acknowledged that a return to England is an option for Reina.

“The Premier League? We’re talking about an important player who a lot of teams would like, but his priority is to stay with Napoli,” said Quillon.

“Is a renewal impossible? I don’t know, we discussed it, but, for now, we haven’t moved forward.”

Reina is reportedly rated in the £5million-bracket by Napoli.

Meanwhile, longstanding No 1 Krul will return to Newcastle next month after a season away from the club on loan.

The 29-year-old – who spent the second half of last term on loan at AZ Alkmaar – has a year left on his United contract.

Krul has now fully recovered from serious knee injury he suffered playing for Holland in late 2015.

Benitez will also look at England Under-20 goalkeeper Woodman during Newcastle’s pre-season campaign.

Woodman was the hero as Paul Simpson’s side won the World Cup earlier this month.

The 20-year-old signed a new long-term contract at United last summer.