By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Managing Editor
Goalkeeper Rob Elliot is hoping to make the most of his first-team opportunity as he looks to make up for lost time in a frustrating campaign.
The Republic of Ireland stopper has been restricted to just two appearances this season - both in the cup competitions - against Morecambe and Cardiff City.
However, Elliot will get his chance to shine in the Barclays Premier League for the first time this term on Saturday as Newcastle United travel to Southampton.
He will be deputising for injured number one Tim Krul, and is determined to help the Magpies return to winning ways.
"Tim took a big whack and carried on but once the adrenaline stopped and things settled down, he obviously had a bad bruise to his knee," Elliot told nufc.co.uk.
"When he came in on Wednesday his knee was really swollen and didn't look good. Tim is a brave lad and has played through a few injuries but he hasn't been able to on this occasion.
"I'm gutted for him but I have to take my opportunity now. Hopefully I can get as many games as possible and try to do well for the team. I'm looking forward to it.
"Mentally, your preparation changes a bit when you know you are playing. You focus more on the game, visualise scenarios and prepare yourself to be playing again.
"Last season was amazing with the amount of games I got. They came thick and fast and I really got a chance.
"I've had to be more patient this year but I feel like I've improved a lot as a goalkeeper, even though I haven't been playing.
"It's nice to know I will get a few games at least, so I can build on my performances and hopefully improve week on week."
Having spent much of this season warming the substitutes' bench, former Charlton man Elliot gave a brutally honest insight into life as an understudy goalkeeper.
"It's horrible. It really isn't the most enjoyable sometimes," he revealed.
"You work hard all week for no reward and just have to grin and bear it.
"You spend all your time hoping that an opportunity comes, although I would never wish injury on Tim - I would rather get my chance through him being sent-off.
"That's football though, and you have to take the opportunity and hope that all those weeks and months of working hard really pay off.
"I have to go out and be positive and give everything I can on the pitch. That is all I can ask of myself and anyone else can ask of me."
At St. Mary's this weekend United will be looking for an eighth away victory of the season, but Elliot knows it will be no easy task and is full of praise for the Saints' performances and squad development.
"I think they've been fantastic and a breath of fresh air for the Premier League," he explained.
"It's tight between us because they are such a good team, full of great players. I'm expecting a really good game.
"I've played against a few of their players when I was at Charlton - the likes of (Adam) Lallana and (Morgan) Schneiderlin. A good number of them have come through the lower leagues and that is good and refreshing to see.
"They are bringing players on and should be praised for that.
"It just shows that you don't have to be a teenage superstar to make it at the top level. You get those players, of course you do, but there are other pathways too.
"Some players - like myself - have to work their way up and it is great to see a balance of lads who have served their time in the Football League."