Former Newcastle United star backs Nick Pope as Magpies keeper bucks the trend with clean sheet achievement

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The Magpies keeper was in unstoppable form on the South Coast.

Former Newcastle United goalkeeper Rob Elliot described the Magpies capture of Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope as ‘a steal’.

The England star has made an impressive start to life on Tyneside after his reported £10million move to St James Park handed him a second chance to impress in the Premier League following Burnley’s relegation from top tier last season.

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Pope put on a fine display in Saturday’s hard-earned draw at Brighton and Hove Albion to become the first Magpies keeper to keep clean sheets in the opening two games of the season since Tim Krul achieved that feat with shutouts against Arsenal and Sunderland in 2011.

Former United stopper Elliot worked alongside Pope during their time at Charlton Athletic over a decade ago and believes United newcomer has everything it takes to make a major impact at his old club.

He told NewcastleWorld: “Popey has come in and he has the shirt at the moment, so it’s up to the other lads to push him and keep him on his toes.

“Nick has to keep that shirt and that means there is a challenge for him too.

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“He has an opportunity back in the Premier League and to push on with his England career too, so it’s all down to him now.

“You look at the ambition of the club, the fanbase, it’s a fantastic opportunity for him and it’s come at the right time for him as a player.

“I think Newcastle have got a steal with the fee and you can see the quality he has got.”

Magpies manager Eddie Howe finds himself in the enviable position of having four senior goalkeepers in his ranks for second consecutive season.

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Martin Dubravka and Karl Darlow both featured during pre-season - although the latter has been linked with a move away from Tyneside this summer.

Freddie Woodman departed for Championship club Preston North End during the summer but Mark Gillespie remains at the club, despite being viewed as a third-choice goalkeeper since joining the club two years ago.

Elliot insists the competition for a place in his starting lineup will be exactly what Howe needs as he looks to drive the club forwards this season.

“I think there is competition in almost every position and you have to have that if you want to get to where the club wants to be,” explained the former Republic of Ireland goalkeeper.

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“That’s the way the manager wants it and that’s the way it has to be.

“Nobody should have a god-given right to start in any game, I think you have to earn it every single week in matches and in training.

“That’s what I’m told from people within the club.

“I know Martin and Karl from my time at the club and Popey from his time at Charlton, and you couldn’t ask for three better lads to look after that position.

“It’ll be tough for Eddie Howe, but it’s the situation a manager wants.”

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Rob Elliot is ready for a new challenge with GatesheadRob Elliot is ready for a new challenge with Gateshead
Rob Elliot is ready for a new challenge with Gateshead

Elliot was speaking at Gateshead’s International Stadium after he was appointed as new Technical Director at the National League club.

The move will see the 36-year-old link up with former Magpies team-mate Mike Williamson, who led the Heed to the National League North title last season.

Elliot will have play a key role behind the scenes and will help Williamson and his coaching staff during training sessions and on matchday.

“As soon as I had the opportunity, I had to come in and I am delighted to be here,” he explained.

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“Mike, Busted (assistant manager Ian Watson), Louis (Storey, first-team coach) and the guys behind the scenes have done an unbelievable job here.

“I am looking forward to getting involved and helping try to drive the club forward by making connections, working behind the scenes and doing all I can.”

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