Rob Elliot up for the fight as Newcastle linked with ex-Liverpool man

Newcastle United's Rob Elliot.
Newcastle United's Rob Elliot.

Rob Elliot expects to have to fight tooth and nail to hang on to the gloves at Newcastle United – that’s even without the Magpies snapping up Spanish international Pepe Reina.

Reports in Italy over the weekend suggested that Rafa Benitez could be set for a reunion with the former Liverpool man, after the 34-year-old had a very public falling out with the Napoli hierarchy.

Reina has just a year left on the two-year terms he penned last summer following his release by Bayern Munich.

And even without that competition, Elliot, who emerged as the club’s No 1 in the final two games of the Championship campaign, is expecting a battle for goalkeeping duties when the players return to Benton for pre-season in July – providing his knee is OK after he was involved in a scare with Ireland this week.

“I will enjoy my break first, but then we are all looking forward to getting back,” he said of the rivalry in his position, with Tim Krul, Karl Darlow, himself, Matz Sels and Freddie Woodman all vying for just one slot in the Magpies starting XI.

“I have absolutely no doubt we will all be raring to go and ready for the battle.”

Competition in the position is no new thing at St James’s Park, though.

It was the same last season with Belgian international Sels, who had an ultimately disappointing campaign, coming in from KAA Gent.

Elliot missed much of the campaign with injury, but was the man Benitez turned to when the Championship title was on the line, despite the excellent form and consistency of Darlow across 2016/17.

“Karl has been magnificent this season,” he said of his nearest rival.

“He was the best goalkeeper in the division, in my opinion.

“If you look at it Matz gets into the Belgian squad every time, too.

“Tim Krul is out on loan – we have a fantastic squad of goalkeepers.

“But at the end of the day you have to take the chances when they come as you never know when the next one will come.

“I had to wait a long time for the next one to come after my injury. Hopefully if given the chance next year I take it.”

It is expected to be a summer of ins and outs at SJP, with Benitez targeting up to 12 new additions between now and the start of the Premier League campaign.