By Matt Farr
Rafa Benitez is expected to keep the faith in goalkeeper Karl Darlow when Newcastle take on Aston Villa in the Championship on Monday night.
The 26-year-old came under fire following a calamitous error during Newcastle’s 2-2 draw with Norwich last Tuesday.
However, despite calls for Darlow to be axed from the side to face Aston Villa, Benitez has reassured his under-fire stopper that he is set to retain the No.1 jersey.
Reflecting on the Norwich stalemate, Benitez told the Chronicle: “Maybe we see some things that you cannot work out in a week, but there are other things that you can change in a day. Then there are things like the incident that happened with Darlow, and you cannot do anything about that.
“You just keep reminding him of what he has been doing well. As long as he keeps on doing the things he was doing right, he will be fine. It will not be a problem.
“I am happy with him because he has been doing well. He has kept 11 clean sheets in all competitions, which I think is a great number for a player who has been doing well ever since he started playing.”
Matz Sels began the campaign as Newcastle’s first-choice goalkeeper, but since Darlow has come into the side, he has made the role his own.
However, with experienced Republic of Ireland international Rob Elliot also waiting in the wings, Benitez is not short of options should he decide to make another goalkeeper change.
Darlow’s error against Norwich saw him scuff his clearance into the path of Cameron Jerome, gifting the Canaries’ striker the easiest of goals.
But Benitez remains unfazed by Darlow’s moment of madness, and is not likely to make any drastic changes to his side when they take on rivals Aston Villa.
The Welsh goalkeeper has kept 11 clean sheets from his 24 appearances in all competitions this season.
In other Newcastle news, a European giant has reportedly set this Newcastle first-teamer in its’ sights.