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Rob Elliot was outstanding the last time Newcastle visited Bournemouth – now he can’t get on the bench

Newcastle United goalkeeper Rob Elliot.
Newcastle United goalkeeper Rob Elliot.

A lot has happened to Rob Elliot since Newcastle United’s last visit to the Vitality Stadium in November 2015.

In fact, a lot happened on the pitch that day.

Elliot’s had highs and lows – and everything in between – since then.

There was the serious knee injury which saw the Republic of Ireland international miss out on Euro 2016.

And there was a long wait for a chance in the Championship after his recovery was complete – and a three-game cameo at the end of the season as United first won promotion and then the title.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Elliot said at the time.

“If you’d said to me six months ago that this would be the way I would make my comeback in circumstances like this I wouldn’t have believed you.

“The ups and downs, helping even in a small way, has been excellent.”

The long-serving goalkeeper was handed the No1 jersey by Rafa Benitez at the start of the season following the departure of Tim Krul to Brighton and Hove Albion, yet he might not even be on the bench against Bournemouth tomorrow.

Loanee Martin Dubravka – who made his debut in the club’s 1-0 win over Manchester United earlier this month – will do well to replicate Elliot’s heroics at the Vitality Stadium.

Not a lot went right for Steve McClaren during his ill-fated tenure at Newcastle.

However, thanks to Elliot – and a goal from Ayoze Perez – the club side beat Bournemouth 1-0 away from home the season before last.

Elliot was unbeatable that day.

Time and again he denied Josh King during a frantic first 45 minutes. Ex-Newcastle midfielder Dan Gosling also had a header turned on to the post.

Bournemouth got their own back at St James’s Park later in the season when they deservedly won 3-1.

The defeat spelled the end for McClaren, who was quickly replaced by Benitez.

The rest is history.

However, Benitez – who had wanted Willy Caballero last summer – has long coveted a new goalkeeper at the club, and he finally got one late in last month’s transfer window.

Newcastle’s manager wanted an experienced and dominant player who was also good with his feet.

After one game on the bench at Selhurst Park, Dubravka was in the team at the expense of Karl Darlow.

Elliot, under contract until 2020, might not even travel to Dorset for the game.

It’s still early days for Dubravka, who wants to make his move permanent.

The 29-year-old needs to show he can play consistently well at Premier League level.

Elliot, over time, proved himself in that division.

Dubravka must do the same in challenging circumstances.

The Slovakia international couldn’t have dreamt of a better debut.

Dubravka knows that he’s potentially only one nightmare away from being out of the team, though Benitez, up to this season, had been reluctant to chop and change his goalkeepers.

Benitez’s view before Dubravka’s debut was that his arrival would raise the standard of all his goalkeepers – whether he played or not.

“Martin has been fine,” said Benitez. “He’s quite clever. He’s increased the competition between keepers. That is a good thing.

“You see the three of them now and the way that they are working ... they are really competing. That is the positive thing.

“After, we have to decide. He was doing well.”

Meanwhile, Aleksandar Mitrovic is off the mark for loan club Fulham.

The Newcastle striker scored in Wednesday night’s 1-1 draw against Bristol City at Ashton Gate.

“Mitrovic needs time on the pitch, but I am very pleased with what I have seen of him so far,” said Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic, who signed the 23-year-old on transfer deadline day last month.

“He offers us something different and will contribute even more in time.

“I am happy with all my players because they gave everything.

“Sometimes you cannot play the football you want to in matches, and that was the case.

“When that happens you have to show something else. The whole team displayed the right attitude, and I don’t want to single out anyone because it would not be fair.

“We are in a good place at the moment, and can look ahead with confidence.”