By Coral Barry
Newcastle are set to be without a fit senior left-back and their two senior goalkeepers when they travel to face Norwich in their crucial Premier League showdown.
Sky Sports News revealed on Wednesday morning that Rob Elliot will require surgery on a serious knee injury he picked up while on international duty with the Republic of Ireland and he joins left-backs Massido Haidara and Paul Dummett in the crowded Newcastle treatment room.
Elliot has been acting as a replacement to the already injured first-choice stopper, Tim Krul, but is now expected to miss at least six months.
Karl Darlow will most likely have to step in for Elliot having made just two senior appearances for Newcastle since moving from Nottingham Forest in 2014.
The goalkeeper’s last game for Newcastle was punctuated by a costly error in the 1-0 defeat to West Brom as Darlow allowed Darren Fletcher’s late header to squirm underneath his body and into the goal.
Newcastle’s other option is to thrust 19-year-old Fred Woodman into the battle to save the Magpies from the drop.
With the inexperienced Darlow set to be in between the sticks, he could have a similarly unsteady left-back in front of him.
The Frenchman was the last fit senior left-back with Paul Dummett’s never-ending hamstring problems wrecking his season.
Dummett has been ruled out for at least another three weeks and will definitely miss the next three league games.
In extreme cases, Newcastle would turn to the versatile Jack Colback to fill in at left-back, but the midfielder is suspended for the next two games after picking up his tenth yellow card in the Magpies’ last league outing against Sunderland.
It means new manager Rafael Benitez will either have to get creative with his formation or look to his academy for a solution.
Newcastle are rock bottom of the table and cannot afford to lose to Norwich and widen the gap to safety to six points.
The Canaries are currently three points clear of the relegation zone and are looking to put back-to-back league victories together for the first time since January.