An exclusive has revealed that Rob Elliot will play his first competitive match in 9 months.

The 30 year old will make his comeback for Newcastle United’s Under 23s against Aston Villa on Monday night.

The game at St James Park will be his first since picking up a cruciate knee ligament injury against Slovakia.

The Newcastle keeper cruelly prevented from a chance of appearing in the 2016 Euros and helping in Newcastle’s relegation fight.

Best of luck to him and fingers crossed his recovery continues on the up.

Rob Elliot speaking to the official NUFC website:

“I feel good. I spoke to (goalkeeping coach) Simon Smith and the manager the other day and they asked how I was, and I just said that I feel good. I feel normal – I don’t feel like I’m injured.

“It’s just a case of playing the reserve game, getting used to playing on a big pitch again, the passes and the distribution, sweeping things up, and just going from there.

“It’s the final box to tick. I’ve practised everything in training, I’ve done everything in the gym. It’s been just over eight months now, so it’s been a long time. It’ll be good to take my name off the injured list and hopefully be back in the plans to get back in with the first team.

“It’ll be good to go back and play at St. James’ and get my bearings back again. It’s great walking out there, and even in a reserve game that will be great. It’ll feel like I’m taking off from where I left off from.

“It’s hard, because when it’s such a bad injury, you do it in stages. When you’ve been injured for a month, you’re not thinking ‘oh God, I’ve got seven months until I can play again’. You’re just thinking about getting off crutches, then you’re thinking about walking, then jogging, then sprinting or doing squats, so there’s always little goals that you set yourself.

“I think that’s what gets you through, and then suddenly you realise that it’s been eight months.

“I’ve been lucky in that I’ve been working with Sean Beech (physio) and the Doc (Paul Catterson) and I’ve managed to manage it well in that everything I’ve done, I’ve done properly. Now that I’ve come back, I’ve had no issues with the knee – touch wood – and I think that’s testament to the lads.

“It’s quite tough. You have your ups and downs.

“You have days when you get up and just think to yourself ‘I don’t want to have to do the same exercises again and again and again’, but you know that you’re doing them for the right reasons.

“They’re the hardest days, but they’re also the days that make you stronger. They’re the days that you get through when you work hard and, mentally, you’re stronger for it, because you’ve got on with it and you haven’t let it get on top of you.

“But it’s also knowing when to give your body a rest and give your mind a rest, and I think it’s about trying to get that balance right.

“I’ve always been a big believer that if you prepare yourself mentally and you’re strong in your head, then everything else will follow. Especially when you get to our level of football, it’s just about handling the situation than whether you’re in the physical peak for it – you need to be mentally switched on to make the right decisions at the right times.

“You speak to people, and they’ll say there’ll be times when you’ll start on a massive up, and then it’ll hit you. But I was quite lucky – I never really got too down. Every few weeks I got to a point where I’d need a couple of days off where I just need to do something different to refresh my head, and luckily enough I was able to do that.

“It’s one of those injuries where you just have to accept it’s happened and get on with it and make the most of it. There’s a whole list of players who’ve done it and come back stronger and gone on to do good things, and I’m just hoping I’m one of them.

“I’ve had Beechy who’s looked after me from day one, and the Doc who has taken care of my operations and overseen it. Then there’s Derek Wright (physio), with his experience, as someone to help, and Tim was going through it at the same time so I chatted to him about it.

“The lads have been class – they’ve kept me involved. It’s been refreshing for me as well, because with the manager coming in and the new players coming in in the summer, it felt like a new place, like I was coming in somewhere different. I felt like I was starting afresh as well, which probably helped.

“My wife and one kid at the time – that turned into two about 12 weeks ago – helped too, because we were expecting a baby. There was a lot to keep my mind going, and I think, looking back, the fact that I had so much going on was the best thing because I wasn’t just going home and sitting there, staring at the TV.  I was looking after my little boy, we were having a baby and doing anything else that that came up as well.

“I’ve got a great group of friends, so when I got injured they booked me on a train to Lille to watch Ireland (at the European Championships), because they had been coming to hopefully watch me. They took me away to Spain as well, and you just realise the people who are there for you.

“It just makes you realise how lucky you are sometimes. When things are going well, it’s easy and everything is great. But when things don’t go well, you appreciate the people around you and how much they do for you.

“The most frustrating stage has been the last two months, because I’ve felt ready to go back, and in training I’ve been doing everything now that I was a month or six weeks ago,” he says. “But it’s just making sure and ticking those boxes, and hopefully I can work on getting my eye back in and getting my sharpness back now.

“I’m not expecting to go back in and take off from where I left off, but I think all the work I’ve done on the injury will hopefully get me as close to that as possible.

“It is a light at the end of the tunnel, but also, I just want to play it and get it out of the way and say ‘right, I’ve played a game now – that’s me done’. I’m out of that injury category, I don’t want to be seen as injured anymore and I don’t want to be treated any differently to the lads, and I haven’t been, to be fair.

“It’s about saying ‘right, I’m not injured anymore’. I’m a first team player again, and I want to fight to get back in the squad and get back playing. That’s the biggest thing.

“I’ve had to fight with my body to get myself fit, and now I just want to fight just to play football and just to enjoy it again.”