By Matt Farr
Newcastle goalkeeper Karl Darlow is thankful for being given the opportunity to regain the no.1 jersey at St. James’ Park.
Darlow endured a torrid start to his Newcastle career, making a costly error on his debut in a 1-0 defeat to West Brom last December.
Magpies boss Rafa Benitez brought in Matz Sels in the summer, and the Belgian goalkeeper began the campaign as Newcastle’s first-choice goalkeeper.
However, Darlow has since been reinstated as first-choice, and has become an integral part of Newcastle’s promotion bid.
The Wales international has kept six clean sheets from 13 Championship games this season, and played a starring role against his former club Nottingham Forest on December 2, despite his side losing the game.
Darlow saved two Forest penalties, first from Nicklas Bendtner, and later from Henri Lansbury, as nine-man Newcastle fell to a 2-1 defeat.
Speaking to the Express about the highs and lows of his Newcastle career, Darlow admitted his debut was a forgettable experience: “That afternoon was tough. I did not have a good game. In fact, I was terrible.
“It was a real low point. I was devastated and couldn’t believe I’d played so badly because I knew in myself I was better than that and did not do myself justice.
“But I always knew that given a run of games, I would be fine. I knew I had the qualities to get through.”
Darlow came back into the fray in the 4-3 victory over Norwich on September 23, and has looked great value for the goalkeeping jersey.
While Sels has provided the competition so far, Republic of Ireland stopper Rob Elliot is nearing a return from injury, and will also be fighting for his place in the first-team.
Elliot has yet to feature this season, having been sidelined with a knee injury, but appeared for the reserve side against Aston Villa on December 12.
Newcastle face Sheffield Wednesday on Boxing Day, where they can extend their lead at the top of the Championship to four points.
In other Newcastle news, Rafa Benitez has delivered his mid-season verdict on Newcastle.