Rob Elliot is ready to seize his big chance with Newcastle United after the club were struck by a goalkeeping crisis.
Tim Krul’s season-ending injury at the weekend has thrust Elliot back into the spotlight after he slipped down the pecking order this season.
The former Charlton Athletic goalkeeper’s Newcastle career looked to be over after the signing of Karl Darlow and the emergence of youngster Freddie Woodman.
But after Krul picked up a cruciate knee injury on duty with Holland on Saturday night, and Darlow out with an ankle problem, Elliot looks set to be Newcastle No 1 for the forseeable future.
The 29-year-old says that Newcastle’s strength in depth in the goalkeeping department will see them through the injury crisis.
“It adds more competition, it keeps you on your toes,” he said.
“At the end of the day you have to be at your best and do all you can to get in the team.
“It is nice to have that healthy competition.
“You need to have strength in numbers and in depth.
“We definitely have that this year.”
Elliot, who was called up by the Republic of Ireland squad this week, is out of contract in the summer after signing from Charlton in 2011.
He has made just 16 first-team appearances for Newcastle in his four years with the club, and played his first full 90 minutes since December when he turned out for the second string against Swansea recently.
Elliot missed the second half of last season with a thigh injury, but has been working hard all summer with new goalkeeping coach Simon Smith.
Smith – and Darlow, who signed from Nottingham Forest last year before returning to the City Ground on a season-long loan – have freshened up the goalkeeping department at Newcastle, which Elliot believes has benefited the club.
“Simon has been around the building in the last couple of years because he looks after the young England lads,” he added.
“We are fortunate to have good young lads around the goalkeeping department.
“I get on really with Simon. He has a great relationship with everybody and it’s increased the competition with Simon and Karl coming in.
“It has freshened the department up a little bit, and it has been good.”
Elliot has been on the bench for Newcastle’s last few games after Darlow picked up an ankle injury, but will start on Sunday against Norwich City.
He will be backed up by 18-year-old Woodman, who has been recalled from his loan spell at Crawley Town, where he made 11 appearances.
The teenager is highly-rated by the Newcastle staff, and helped England Under-17s win the European Championships.