Elliott battling for on for a call-up - 03/03/2004
Robbie Elliott last night revealed he has not given up hope of resurrecting his Newcastle career following Sir Bobby Robson's decision to recall the experienced full-back.
The Gosforth-born defender has not started a first team game all season after finding himself transfer-listed last summer and appeared to have played his last game in a black-and-white shirt.
However, Elliott came through January's St James's Park cull unscathed and, following the departure of centre-halves Nikos Dabizas and Steve Caldwell, found himself back on the bench last month.
Now the former Bolton favourite faces a straight fight with Aaron Hughes for tonight's left-back jersey and he admitted: "I would love to face Vålerenga.
"Just being back among the lads on a matchday has made a difficult season seem worthwhile and getting the chance to play again would be the icing on the cake.
"When I found out I had been transfer listed last summer it was never a problem. It only started to affect me when I would train all week and then drive home while the rest of the lads prepared for the match.
"All I ever wanted was to be involved and it was a nice surprise when I made the bench against Blackburn.
"It's the first step towards getting back into the team and I know the manager has to make a few changes for the Valerenga match."
Elliott, however, looks set to miss out again, despite Olivier Bernard's suspension, with Robson likely to switch Hughes to left back and play Andy O'Brien on the right hand side of a four-man defence.
As revealed in yesterday's Journal, the Newcastle manager is keen to recall a fit-again Jonathan Woodgate and that means O'Brien occupying a role he last filled at Everton in the Premiership last season.
Elliott is braced for another night on the bench but added: "You never know what might happen.
"I was on the bench in Belgrade at the start of the season and knew that one injury at the back could mean I would be asked to play. I'll be ready if the opportunity arises.
"I think anyone who was involved against Partizan realises that we cannot afford to make the same mistakes at home that we did against Lothar Matthaus's men.
"That tie was there for the taking after the first leg - we scored a vital away goal and gave ourselves a great chance of progressing.
"Everybody knows what happened next and we can't allow the same thing to happen against Vålerenga."
The Norwegians have won each of their previous ties away from home, following 0-0 draws in Olso, and both teams are well aware of the prize awaiting tonight's victors.
"When you look at the teams which are left in the draw that's the only incentive you need," added Elliott.
"We have a great chance of getting a fantastic fourth round draw and for me it means another chance to travel abroad with the squad and keep involved at the highest level."
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