Rob Elliot has handed Newcastle head coach Steve McClaren a major boost by declaring himself fit for Saturday’s Premier League trip to Bournemouth.
McClaren was left contemplating an emergency loan deal when the 29-year-old Republic of Ireland international keeper limped away from last Sunday’s 0-0 draw with Stoke with a recurrence of a thigh injury.
With Tim Krul and Karl Darlow already in the treatment room, that would have left the Magpies with only 18-year-old Freddie Woodman, who is yet to make a senior appearance for the club, at their disposal at the Vitality Stadium.
However, Elliot’s availability has spared McClaren at least one difficult decision as he attempts to secure just a second league win of the season to lift the club out of the bottom three.
The 54-year-old said: “He’s fit to play. We gave him enough time and rest and recovery, and he’s worked the last two days and trained with the team this morning, so he’s fit.”
There was equally good news of full-back Daryl Janmaat, who hobbled off last weekend with a knee problem, while fellow defender Kevin Mbabu also returns to contention after a hamstring problem to slightly shorten a lengthy casualty list.
McClaren said: “We have got a few injuries on the periphery, but basically we are trying to get consistency – that’s the key word – consistency in team selection, consistency in style of play and consistency in performance.
“As much as possible, we are trying to keep the same team and rotate, really, around that.”
Newcastle’s fans face an early start to make it to the south coast in time for a 12.45pm kick-off, but McClaren is hoping to reward the 1,365-strong travelling party with a victory which would see them climb above the promoted Cherries.
He said: “We have put ourselves in that position where this is an opportunity, and that’s what we have got, we have got an opportunity.
“Bournemouth will also look and say this is an opportunity, and they’ll be thinking, ‘A home game, Newcastle below us, let’s go for it’, so it starts off quite an even game and an interesting contest.
“We have just got to make sure that we are focused and ready because we know down at Bournemouth it’s not easy.”