Newcastle United goalkeeper Karl Darlow is hopeful manager Rafa Benitez will decide to pick him for Saturday's (2 December) clash against Chelsea after being handed his first start of the Premier League season in his side's 2-2 draw with West Bromwich Albion.

Darlow has had to twiddle his thumbs for much of the current campaign with Benitez preferring Rob Elliot during the embryonic stages of the Magpies' battle to remain in England's top-flight, but he was afforded a start at the Hawthorns in midweek as the former Liverpool boss made a host of changes to his starting line-up ahead of a gruelling festive period.

Benitez is known for his penchant for rotation and will presumably decide to shuffle his pack against Chelsea, who continued their rich vein of form with a gritty 1-0 win over Swansea City, but Darlow hopes the Spaniard will decide to keep him between their sticks for their visit to Stamford Bridge.

"The manager rotates quite often, so you have to be ready each week and I'm just pleased to be back and playing for Newcastle." Darlow told the Chronicle. "I was happy.

"I knew I needed to manage myself through my first game back after not playing for a while, but I felt good. I felt like I did all right, so we'll see what kind of team he picks on Saturday at Chelsea."

Darlow will have to wait and see if Benitez decides to utilise him against Chelsea on the weekend, with first-choice goalkeeper Elliot fit and available after being rested in midweek. The former Nottingham Forest starlet may well turn out for Newcastle in west London, but the Magpies will once again have to make do without defensive lynchpin Jamaal Lascelles, who is struggling with an ankle problem, while Christian Atsu and Paul Dummett are also out with thigh and hamstring issues.

Karl Darlow
Darlow made his first start of the Premier League season against West Brom Getty Images