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Press article:

Elliott in from the cold - 23/09/2004

Elliott in from the cold
   Ronnie Johnsen
   Andy O Brien
   Graeme Souness
   Newcastle United

Resurgent Robbie Elliott is ready to write a new chapter in his
Newcastle career after club officials last night moved to end months of
uncertainty surrounding the popular defender's future by deleting his
name from the club's transfer list.

The Gosforth-born favourite refused to accept he had played his last
game in a black-and-white shirt despite being told his United career was
effectively over in June 2003.

And 16 months after his name first appeared on a club circular listing
players up for sale, Elliott is on the verge of completing one of the
most remarkable comebacks in Magpies' history. A player five years
Ronnie Johnsen's junior still believes he has plenty to offer in the
Premiership as he closes in on a 200th league start under new boss
Graeme Souness.

However Elliott, who maintains he never received written notification
that he had been made available for sale last year, is reluctant to read
too much into a seemingly significant imminent change in status.

"The slate's been wiped clean for everybody with the new manager coming in, but I just don't know which way it's going to go for me," he
admitted. "You never know in football - in a few weeks I could be back
to square one and back playing with the reserves. I'd love a new
contract, who wouldn't? But I can't bank on that happening. At this
moment in time, I'm in the picture and I'm loving every minute of it."

Elliott has featured in five of Newcastle's seven first-team fixtures
this season after managing just two league appearances during the
previous two campaigns.

And the experienced full-back has confounded his critics by proving
equally adept in a central defensive role alongside Andy O'Brien
(pictured). The duo have conceded one goal in three games since Elliott
was recalled to the starting 11 against Blackburn Rovers. United have
won all three fixtures.

"We've got to keep the momentum going now and make sure we continue to climb the table as quickly as we can," added a player expected to retain his place against West Bromwich Albion this weekend.

"The longer we can keep things together and keep this run going the
better. It's important for us to build up a bit of momentum now."
Elliott has made an immediate impression on Souness and the Scot has
already made it clear he is looking to Newcastle's senior players to set
the right example to their younger colleagues.

In handing the former Bolton player the captain's armband ahead of last
week's Uefa Cup tie against Bnei Sakhnin, United's new boss illustrated
his faith in a player frozen out of the first team picture by Sir Bobby

And Elliott has no reason to believe his unexpected return to frontline
action will not continue under a manager who finally allowed himself -
and his players - a day off yesterday prior to Saturday's clash with the

"It feels like a new era but there's been no time to take it all in,"
added the Magpies' 30-year-old stalwart. "The new manager came in last
week and we only had a couple of days' training before the Uefa Cup game and then a couple more sessions before going down to Southampton.

"It's going to take time for him to get his whole point of view across
but, at the minute, things are going great guns.

"You're coming to the training ground on a morning and not really
knowing what to expect, and that keeps you on your toes."

Johnsen, who will wear the number 25 shirt for Newcastle, is under no
illusions that he will be forced to fight for his first-team place such
has been the form of United's unfamiliar central defensive partnership.

But the former Norway international explained: "I'm training twice a day
and everything is going well. I'm hoping to attain full match fitness
within the next fortnight and that's what I'm concentrating on."

The Journal

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