‘Terrific’ Elliot boosts Newcastle backline

TRICKY MOMENT ... Rob Elliot is beaten by Rickie Lambert.
TRICKY MOMENT ... Rob Elliot is beaten by Rickie Lambert.

NEWCASTLE United will be in safe hands during Tim Krul’s spell on the sidelines.

That was the verdict of Alan Pardew after watching Rob Elliot make his Premier League debut.

Elliot started yesterday’s 4-2 win over Southampton at St James’s Park.

The first thing the 26-year-old did was pick the ball out of the net – Morgan Schneiderlin opened the scoring in the third minute – but the goalkeeper grew in strength as the game wore on.

And Elliot – set for a run in the team with Krul facing up to five weeks out with the ankle problem he suffered against Metalist Kharkiv last week – ably dealt with crosses and shots.

“Robbie, after the first goal, was terrific,” Pardew told the Gazette.

“He took some crosses and looked accomplished.

“He kicked really well. His distribution’s going to add to us. He’s very accurate. That helped us.”

Elliot was handed a start with Steve Harper also sidelined with a knee problem, and 19-year-old Jak Alnwick was named on the bench.

St James’s Park was decked out in red, white and blue for the game, with United having named it “French Day” in honour of the club’s sizeable contingent from across the channel and French-speaking Africa.

The Marseillaise, the French national anthem, was played before kick-off.

And Pardew felt the occasion took the pressure off his players.

“It was just a great day,” he said. “The concept of ‘French Day’ took a bit of pressure off the team.

“There wasn’t that anxiety in the crowd after we went a goal behind with their first shot at goal.

“Poor old Robbie didn’t have a chance with it. You thought ‘this could be difficult’, but we didn’t panic.

“I thought that was as calm as we’ve been in a game. (Yohan) Cabaye was pulling the strings – it was a shame to lose him. He was feeling a bit dizzy.

“I was really pleased with the performance.”