ROB ELLIOT has been backed to build on his breakthrough season at Newcastle United – and challenge Tim Krul for the Magpies’ goalkeeping jersey.
The 27-year-old made 17 appearances last term – and answered the questions asked of him during first-choice Krul’s absences through injury.
With long-serving Steve Harper having now formally left Newcastle – his contract expired yesterday – the onus is on Elliot to build on his achievements.
Goalkeeping coach Andy Woodman – who also worked with Elliot earlier in his career at Charlton – believes the Greenwich-born player has come of age after a difficult start to his career on Tyneside.
Elliot, by his own admission, was not at his best on his debut in a cup tie against Nottingham Forest in his only appearance in 2011/12.
But Woodman – and manager Alan Pardew – never doubted his ability and potential.
“I’ve always laughed that people have had these questions about Robbie,” Woodman said. “It needs pointing out that when Robbie came, the transfer happened really quickly.
“He was in a hotel, and it was hard to move like that. All of a sudden, his world’s changed.
“He was thrown into the Nottingham Forest game and, in hindsight – thinking how I felt when I just got a move without any time to adjust – it might have been too soon.
“I don’t think its ever crossed my mind or the manager’s mind that he wasn’t good enough. He’s a very good goalkeeper. There’s so much more to come from him..
“Robbie’s a very good goalkeeper, who’s proved himself this year, and will continue to prove himself next year.”
Pardew handed Elliot his Charlton debut in 2008, and Woodman believes he can go on to have a long career at St James’s Park.
“I’ve never had any doubts about him from the age or 17 or 18 to now,” said Woodman. “Harps has got 11 years on him, and potentially Newcastle could have 11 years out of Robbie Elliot.”
Meanwhile, Krul – who dislocated his shoulder in April’s Tyne-Wear derby defeat – has already started his pre-season work, with a view to making an earlier-than-expected comeback.
Krul is pencilled in to return to action in late August, but the 25-year-old hinted he is hopeful of returning sooner. He tweeted: “Just finished my first proper gym session of the new season. Shoulder is coming on well. Can’t wait for season to start.”