Newcastle United goalkeeper Matz Sels has told ChronicleLive that he must be patient if he is to regain his number one spot from the in-form Karl Darlow.
The 24-year-old made the move to St James' Park from Belgian Pro League side Gent in the summer, though Sels has suffered a hard start to life in England, so hard that he has already been linked with loan moves back to his native Belgium.
When Sels was purchased for an undisclosed fee by Toon boss Rafael Benitez, the Spaniard instantly put his faith in his new signing. Sels was given the opportunity to quickly cement his place as United's number one as he featured in all of Newcastle's opening nine Championship games.
Though, despite tallying four clean sheets in those nine games, Sels was showing signs of vulnerability that became apparent to the Geordie faithful. Sels looked poor at commanding his area with crosses often being left undealt with - often leaving Newcastle fans with a lot of 'heart in mouth' moments.
And after an error in the 1-1 draw at Aston Villa on September 24, Sels lost his league place to Darlow. Since then, the Belgian has only featured for the Magpies in their EFL Cup ties with Preston North End and Hull City, also recently in the FA Cup at Birmingham City on Saturday, where he saw the Magpies take the Blues back to the North East for a replay.
Remaining patient - Chances could come through the FA Cup
With Benitez and his men probably reluctant to having to fit a replay into an already busy fixture list, the forthcoming tie will be met well by Sels.
Appearances in the league are limited for the shot-stopper, though the FA Cup is not. When Birmingham travel up to St James' next week, Sels is almost guaranteed to start between the sticks, where he hopes he can stake a claim to challenge Darlow: "I have to be patient and see what the future brings" said Sels. “It’s football. Karl’s doing well at the moment. As a goalkeeper, there’s only one position, so it’s normal."
The 24-year-old will hope he can play a big part in the Magpies securing a fourth round tie away to Oxford United: “I’m happy if I can play (against Birmingham) - now there is a return and we have to beat them.”
For Sels, it'll probably take more than a few FA Cup appearance for him to impress Benitez again and win a permanent place back in the side, which Sels suggested he is aware of, he said: “I try to work hard in training and show myself and make it difficult (for Benitez to decide). That’s what I try to do."
If the Magpies are to crash out of the FA Cup by the end of the January transfer window, Benitez may feel it is better for Sels to return to Belgium on a temporary basis in order the Belgian to get some first-team football under his belt again. With a nearly fully fit Rob Elliot waiting in the wings, Sels could soon find himself featuring for the reserves if he fails to shine from now to the end of the season.