Why Rob Elliot's return could spell the end for Newcastle United team-mate

Newcastle United's Rob Elliot

After 11 games and even fewer months on Tyneside, Matz Sels' days could be numbered.

Rob Elliot’s return to fitness is good news for everyone connected with Newcastle United. Well, apart from Matz Sels that is.

Rafael Benitez may have defended the Belgian international after he gifted Robert Snodgrass an instant equaliser in their EFL Cup quarter-final defeat to Hull City last month, but Sels’ display only reinforced the opinion of the majority of the club’s fans.

Namely, that the former Genk goalkeeper is not a man cut out for the rough and tumble nature in English football.

Newcastle United's Matz Sels

In fact, after a series of shaky displays characterised by an inability to command his area in this most physical of leagues, Benitez dropped the 24-year-old indefinitely in October, replacing him with Karl Darlow.

The former Nottingham Forest youngster has gone from strength to strength in between the sticks, notably saving two penalties in the nine-man Magpies’ narrow defeat to Forest last week, Sels is no nearer to a first-team return.

And, if he’s distinctly second placed now, he can only expect to drop further down the pecking order once Benitez retains the services of a goalkeeper who came into his own during Tim Krul’s injury-enforced absence last season.

Without Elliot’s often virtuoso performances in between the sticks, most memorably in a vital win away at Bournemouth, Newcastle could well have been welcomed into the second tier a little sooner.

Newcastle United's Rob Elliot

Rumours suggested Sels was set for a sharp return to Belgium in the upcoming transfer window and the form of Darlow, coupled with Elliot’s return and Krul building up his match fitness on loan at Ajax with a view to a first-team return at St James’, means the Belgian may find that his Newcastle career is over after just 11 largely unconvincing games.

Newcastle United's Matz Sels looks dejected after the match

FIFA World Cup 2018FIFA 2018 World Cup Russia - click here for all of our coverage...

Register for NEWCASTLE UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch