McClaren backs Newcastle keeper Elliot over role in crucial derby moment

Newcastle defender Fabricio Coloccini concedes the crucial penalty for this challenge on Sunderland's Steven Fletcher in Sunday's derby
Newcastle defender Fabricio Coloccini concedes the crucial penalty for this challenge on Sunderland's Steven Fletcher in Sunday's derby
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Steve McClaren has defended goalkeeper Rob Elliot after he came under fire in the wake of Newcastle United’s Wear-Tyne derby defeat.

McClaren’s side were beaten 3-0 by Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Sunday.

And Elliot was invovled in the game’s moment of controversy.

With the score goalless, Newcastle captain Fabricio Coloccini leant into Steven Fletcher as he chased a ball, which was gathered by Elliot.

Referee Robert Madley pointed to the spot – and sent off Coloccini.

Adam Johnson converted the penalty and second-half strikes from Fletcher and Billy Jones made certain of a sixth successive derby win for Sunderland.

Elliot was criticised for not being quick enough to claim the ball.

But Newcastle head coach McClaren didn’t think the 29-year-old was at fault.

Asked if Elliot could have done more, McClaren said: “No, I think it was a normal one.

“It was going through to the goalkeeper. Colo knew that. He just gently eased the opponent (Fletcher) away. I see a lot of them around the field, never given.”

Elliot started the season as the club’s third-choice goalkeeper, but he returned to the team this month after Tim Krul suffered a season-ending injury.

United yesterday appealed the decision in the hope of overturning Coloccini’s one-game ban. If the appeal, which will be heard today, is unsuccessful, Coloccini will miss Saturday’s home game against Stoke City through suspension.

The derby defeat left Newcastle second-from-bottom of the Premier League.

McClaren’s side have won just once this season, and the club remains two points adrift of fourth-from-bottom Bournemouth, beataen 5-1 by Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.

However, McClaren, appointed in the summer, feels United are making progress under him.

And he was heartened by Newcastle’s dominant first-half performance against Sunderland.

“We’re progressing – you can see that,” he told BBC Radio Newcastle.