Rafa Benitez pleased to bring this Newcastle United player back into the fold

Karl Darlow.
Karl Darlow.

Rafa Benitez was pleased to finally give Karl Darlow a game in goal – after a “difficult” few months for the goalkeeper.

Darlow played 45 minutes of Saturday’s friendly against CSKA Moscow in Spain.

It was Darlow’s first appearance since August, when he played in a Carabao Cup defeat to Nottingham Forest, his former club.

Darlow recently recovered from the elblow injury which had sidelined him since late last year, and Benitez fielded him in the first half against CSKA.

Asked about Darlow’s comeback, Benitez said: “Some players have not been playing, so it’s good for them to be involved.

"I’m quite happy with a lot of things.

“I think to have the chance to be involved is always good – every player needs to play – but it’s more difficult for the goalkeepers.

“It was good for him to make some saves.”

Freddie Woodman – who has been on the bench in Darlow’s absence – played the second half at the Pinatar Arena, where Salomon Rondon found the net in a 1-1 draw.

Rob Elliot, United’s fourth-choice goalkeeper, is sidelined with an injury.

Ki Sung-yueng also made his comeback from injury against CSKA. The midfielder said: ““I don’t feel 100% yet, but there’s no pain from my hamstring injury.”

Meanwhile, Benitez believes that he has a “happy” squad ahead of the relegation-threatened club’s final 12 Premier League games.

Newcastle – who take on basement club Huddersfield Town at St James’s Park on Saturday – are just a point above the relegation zone following last week’s 1-1 draw away to Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Benitez believes last week’s five-day training camp in Spain has brought his players even closer together ahead of a hugely-important run of games.

“There’s a good atmosphere and spirit,” said United’s manager. “The commitment of everyone to the end of the season will be crucial, and I can see that the players are happy.”