Eddie Howe has backed Martin Dubravka to plug the sizeable gap left by Nick Pope as Newcastle’s first-choice goalkeeper faces up to four months on the sidelines.
Howe’s worst fears over the shoulder injury Pope sustained during Saturday’s 1-0 Premier League win over Manchester United have been confirmed, with the 31-year-old due to undergo surgery that will sideline him for four months and leave him in a race to make England’s Euro 2024 squad.
Pope’s misfortune – he dislocated his left shoulder as he dived in an attempt to save a Sergio Reguilón shot – will open the door for his deputies Dubravka, Loris Karius and Mark Gillespie. The 34-year-old Slovakia international Dubravka, who came off the bench to finish Saturday’s game, is the first in line, and will start at Everton on Thursday evening.
Howe said: “We really believe in Martin and I’ve always had that high opinion of him. Yes, we brought in Nick – we wanted to build competition for places, we wanted to build a squad that we felt could really carry us to great success – but Martin is a high-class goalkeeper.
“He’s a brilliant shot-stopper himself, he’s very good with his feet and his distribution, so no hesitation about bringing Martin into the team and I hope he does really well.”
Newcastle have been linked with a move for the former Manchester United keeper David de Gea in recent days but Howe said no approaches had been made. “We have not made any inquiries or any decisions about our recruitment leading into January. This is a chance for the goalkeepers we have at the football club to consolidate their positions, and that will be the same for every other position at the club.”
Howe said Pope needed surgery. “The operation hasn’t happened yet, but we’re thinking roughly around four months, so it’s a big blow to us, but one that we expected after the game.”