Before the transfer window opened, Rafael Benitez admitted Rob Elliot was the sole player he’d let go in January.

The Irish shot-stopper has found himself slip to fourth in the pecking order this season. With Martin Dubravka, Karl Darlow and Freddie Woodman all ahead of the 32-year-old, he is surplus to requirements.

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Game time needed

However, Newcastle are missing a trick by not sending Woodman out on loan this month. The highly-rated England youth international is in desperate need of game time. This was evident against Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup. Every time a cross entered the box, there was pressure from the visitors on the stand-in ‘keeper.

If Woodman is to fulfil his potential, Newcastle should look to the lower league clubs, or perhaps one in Scottish football, to help him make the breakthrough in the professional ranks.

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Elliot, who openly admits he’s settled on Tyneside, hasn’t started a competitive game in over a year for the Magpies, but would still do a job if called upon. This should, therefore, open the door for Woodman to ply his trade elsewhere for a short-term spell.

If the 21-year-old stagnates as a back-up ‘keeper much longer, it’s possible that he will look towards a permanent exit from the club in order to keep his career on track.

Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United

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