Not the news Rafa Benitez wanted to hear, as Martin O’Neill revealed that Rob Elliot has failed to travel with the Republic of Ireland squad due to injury.
The Republic play Mexico in New Jersey on Thursday O’Neill says that whilst the rest of the squad are away, the Newcastle keeper will be assessed as to how serious the problem is.
The Manager revealing that after playing the final three matches of Newcastle’s Championship season, Rob Elliot has had a reaction to the knee injury that kept him out of first team action for over a year.
Newcastle striker Daryl Murphy has travelled with the rest of the squad and then later in the week it will be interesting to see whether Elliot is involved against Uruguay, who the Republic play in a friendly at home on Sunday.
The two games are a build-up to a crucial World Cup qualifier at home to Austria on Sunday 11 June. Martin O’Neill’s team currently level on points at the top of the group with Serbia.
West Ham’s Darren Randolph and Sheffield Wednesday’s Keiren Westwood are the two keepers who have travelled for the match against Mexico.
Closer to home, Rafa Benitez will no doubt be being kept up to date with Elliot’s condition, the whole goalkeeping situation at Newcastle United has never been more unpredictable than it is ahead of the Premier League kick-off in August.
Matz Sels was brought in as number one last summer but then lost his place after looking less than confident, especially with balls into the box.
Karl Darlow then stepped in and did very well, although he did have the odd moment when he appeared to lose concentration, though overall did very well.
With promotion in sight, Rafa then surprisingly dropped Darlow and brought in Rob Elliot for the final three games. The United boss having awarded Elliot a new and improved contract when he was out injured for the year.
Meanwhile, Freddie Woodman and Tim Krul have been out on loan with varying levels of success.
Woodman looks sure to go out on loan again to get games and experience but with the other four, we await with interest.
Matz Sels looks the least likely of the four to have a future at Newcastle but if he doesn’t move on, either on loan or permanently, there is still a chance he could end up as one of United’s keepers moving into next season.
Krul let a lot of goals in during his loan spell at AZ Alkmaar in the second half of the season and it is hard to see him having impressed enough to return as number one, which surely will see him look to move on as he turns 30 during next season.
That leaves Elliot and Darlow potentially fighting it out and my guess would be that Elliot looks earmarked for some involvement next season, even if only as a number two.
I think the odds are that Rafa Benitez intended to either bring in a new number one to compete with Elliot, or to have the Irish international compete with Darlow for top spot.
Hopefully this injury scare will clear up quickly but if it proves more serious, then the Newcastle Manager may have an extra complication in building his squad for the new season.
“Darren Randolph was disappointed to lose his place in the (West Ham) team and wanted to come to America to get some game-time. He has done very well.
“It’s good that Keiren is pushing him.
“Robbie Elliot played the last couple of games for Newcastle but is still feeling the injury.
“We will assess that during the next couple of days, so we will just have the two goalkeepers coming with us.”
Thursday 1 June – Mexico v Republic of Ireland (Playing in New Jersey)
Sunday 4 June – Ireland v Uruguay
Sunday 11 June – Ireland v Austria