The abundance of shot-stoppers in Newcastle’s squad has been less than ideal this season and Rafa Benitez should grant one goalkeeper an exit in January.
The Toon currently have Martin Dubravka, Karl Darlow, Rob Elliot and youngster Freddie Woodman all in their senior squad this season.
But with Dubravka now the undisputed number one for Benitez’s side, a few of them have seen their careers begin to stall.
The decision to not let Woodman go out on loan earlier this season has been particularly problematic. The goalkeeper is highly rated by Newcastle staff, but has been forced to play in the reserves this season to get match time.
Meanwhile, Elliot hasn’t played for Newcastle in almost a year, with no appearances this season.
He’s unlikely to get one either, with Darlow currently preferred in the back-up role.
The obvious solution to the problem would be to grant Woodman a loan deal in January, but comments from Benitez have implied it may well be Elliot who makes way.
January exit for Elliot?
When asked about potential departures in the next transfer window, he said: “It’s more difficult to let players go, but maybe some of them they have more chances to leave.
“First of all because they are not playing, or because we have lots of players in this position. If everything is right, then maybe a couple of players they can leave.”
He was then asked whether Elliot in particular would be available for transfer.
Benitez said: “Could be, yes. It could be an option. He’s a good keeper that is not playing, and Martin is doing really, really well.”
It’s clear Benitez is aware this amount of keepers is unsustainable and Elliot is obviously no longer in his plans. But the Irish international doesn’t seem to be pushing for an exit. And he’s not exactly a bad back-up choice.
Elliot is an experienced goalkeeper and can be relied upon to slot into the team in response to events like Karl Darlow’s injury this week.
But it was Woodman who was selected for the bench spot against Burnley on Monday night, putting Elliot’s future further into doubt.
Elliot should stay, not Woodman
It’s clear that Benitez is a fan of Woodman and appreciates young talent on Tyneside.
But at 21 years old, the shot-stopper is now looking to kick-start his career.
A couple of appearances on the bench for Newcastle is unlikely to appease his desire for first-team football. He’ll be thankful for the experience, but a loan move in January is likely to still be his priority.
Benitez may want to keep the goalie at the club, but he still can’t guarantee him match time.
Stalling a youngster’s development and letting an experienced goalkeeper like Elliot go is the wrong decision.
Benitez should grant Woodman his loan deal or risk losing him altogether.