Eddie Howe held his customary pre-match presser on Wednesday ahead of tomorrow’s game on the road at Everton, and the manager of Newcastle confirmed Nick Pope’s injury suffered last Sunday against Man Utd.
According to Howe, Pope needs and will undergo surgery in the next few days, ruling him out for the next four months. This injury, just one of the many suffered by different NUFC players throughout the first few months of the season, will be one of those impacting the squad the most when it comes to the most unique position on the pitch.
Here’s a review of where things stand in terms of the squad depth at goalkeeper, and potential moves Newcastle might explore going forward to bolster the position.
Starting GK — Martin Dubravka
Martin Dubravka is Pope’s main replacement and he was the man tasked with stepping up to the plate once the starter left the field last weekend.
Dubby’s only other app this season came in the 3-0 Carabao Cup win at Old Trafford last month, coincidentally against the same time he faced last Saturday and also the club he spent a chunk of last season at while on loan from Newcastle.
Dubravka has also played seven Euro 2024 qualifiers for Slovakia as he’s been the main goalie of his nation for more than a few years and nobody has been able to remove him from the national goal since he took possession of it.
As was the case before Pope arrived from Burnley and also after he grabbed the reins of Newcastle’s goal, Dubravka will be the go-to goalie of the Magpies for the time being and unless he implodes he should retain the GK1 role until Pope returns barring the arrival of a better option via transfer or loan next January.
Dubravka has played 135 for Newcastle across all competitions keeping 40 clean sheets in those matches for a 29.6% clean-sheet rate.
Reserve GK — Loris Karius
Karius was signed off the street in Sept. 2022 by Newcastle in a similar situation as the one currently impacting the Magpies. He has signed a couple of extensions since he first signed a contract with the club, although that’s only because NUFC always signed him to super-short-term deals
The veteran and former Liverpool goalie has only made one competitive appearance for Newcastle since he first signed with the club, appearing in last year’s Carabao Cup final against Man Utd in February at Wembley with Nick Pope out suspended. Newcastle lost that game 2-0, although Karius wasn’t to blame.
Depth GK — Mark Gillespie
Unless there is a catastrophe hitting Newcastle, Gillespie shouldn’t appear in any game any time soon. He’s a Newcastle native and fan for life, although it’s also true that the Magpies released him from their academy when he was a teenager aged 16.
Gillespie made his ever-dreamed return to the club of his love back in 2020 after playing in the EFL and Scotland, and he’s appeared in three competitive games with Newcastle, all of them in the Carabao Cup. He has yet to play after the arrival of Eddie Howe as the manager following the PIF takeover back in Oct. 2021, not even being named for the Premier League squad for the 2022/23 season.
Will Newcastle look to sign another goalkeeper?
With Pope last Saturday and barely a few days and hours passing since that happened, it’s still too early to tell what Newcastle will do next and into January’s transfer window.
That said, according to information obtained by The Athletic, the club is studying all possibilities as they know Pope won’t be available for the next four months, as confirmed by Eddie Howe in Wednesday’s press conference.
The Athletic’s sources said the club won’t “rush recruitment decisions,” while acknowledging the winter transfer window will be there for them to take advantage of if needed.
“Contingency plans are being made,” reported The Athletic. “Emergency lists, which Newcastle have for each position anyway, are being updated.”
According to the outlet, Howe and Newcastle plan to conduct “reactive” business considering their precarious injury situation during the upcoming transfer window. Newcastle, however, must decide “whether to recruit a short-term replacement or bring money forward to sign a ball-playing goalkeeper.”
The former solution would help now and until Pope returns, trusting the veteran to keep manning the goal for at least the next few years going forward. The latter option would be geared toward pulling a transfer that helps Newcastle “move to the next level,” per The Athletic.
Given their Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules and limitations and Newcastle’s “desire to sign a midfielder and possibly a forward next month,” The Athletic reports that the Magpies are “unlikely to sign a goalkeeper permanently for a significant fee.”
Finally, “loans could be explored, with Tottenham Hotspur’s Hugo Lloris heavily linked,” reported The Athletic before adding “West Ham United’s Lukasz Fabianski (an experienced alternative)” and also David de Gea as an available free agent who has been heavily linked in recent days with the goalie seemingly interested in joining Newcastle.