By Will Butcher

Rob Elliot is set to make his long-awaited Newcastle return from injury on Monday against Aston Villa’s reserve side, according to a reliable journalist.

Evening Chronicle writer Lee Ryder revealed on his personal Twitter account that goalkeeper Elliot will take to the field for the first time since March.

A four-time Ireland international, Elliot has been sidelined for more than half a year after a rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament while on international duty.

The 30-year-old has since spoken of the pain the injury has caused both on and off the field, as he was unable to take his son onto the St. James’ Park turf as a mascot.

There is light is at the end of the tunnel for Elliot, who is set to face Aston Villa’s reserve side in three days’ time.

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However, the former Charlton stopper is set to face an uphill struggle to regain his place as the Toon’s number one goalkeeper when he makes his full recovery.

Rafa Benitez has an abundance of goalkeepers available to him. After bringing in Belgium star Matz Sels, the former Liverpool boss has to choose from four goalkeepers vying for a first-team spot.

Joining Sels in that race are current number one Karl Darlow, youngster Freddie Woodman as well asElliot. Holland international Tim Krul is currently on loan with Dutch giants Ajax.

Darlow is expected to start for the Toon on Saturday, as they go up against playoff chasing Birmingham at home.

In other Newcastle team news, this is the best possible side to face Birmingham as Benitez should make three changes.