Newcastle United reportedly have doubts about Karl Darlow; hope for Tim Krul?

Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez

The Dutchman only recently made his return after a year and a half on the sidelines but could he come back to Newcastle United?

The fact that Newcastle United survived a gruelling post-festive fixture schedule with their place in the top two intact owes much to the supreme individual performances of Karl Darlow between the sticks.

Yet, the Daily Mirror reports, somewhat surprisingly, that the former Nottingham Forest youngster is still not viewed as a long-term number one on Tyneside, meaning Chelsea’s hopes of landing him as a replacement for wantaway understudy Asmir Begovic remain alive and well.

Newcastle United's Karl Darlow

So that begs the question; who do Newcastle view as their long-term, first-choice goalkeeper? To disregard Darlow in spite of a series of extremely impressive performances appears nothing short of baffling but it must be remembered that the 26-year-old only worked his way into the starting XI in October following one blunder too many from summer signing Matz Sels.

Keeper beat himself up over Newcastle teenager

Could this, then, offer some encouragement to Tim Krul? The Dutchman evolved into one of the Premier League’s most consistent goalkeepers at St James’ Park but, after suffering a cruciate ligament injury in October 2015, has spent the last year and a half desperately attempting to regain full fitness.

Newcastle's Tim Krul looks dejected at the end of the match

A season-long loan at Ajax was cut short in January after sporadic appearances for the reserve team and the 28-year-old is now embarking on another attempt to rediscover his fitness and form at Eredivisie rivals AZ Alkmaar. In fact, the weekend's 4-2 defeat to AZ Alkmaar was his first senior appearance since his injury but the road to recovery is long and winding.

McClaren takes credit for major factor in Newcastle's rejuvenation; is he right?

Krul at the peak of his powers would surely push Darlow down the pecking order but that’s the risk Newcastle would have to take; sell their ever-improving goalkeeper for a player who might never hit the same form again?

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