Newcastle United goalkeeper Nick Pope is reportedly on track to return to the pitch following his recovery from a shoulder injury in mid-to-late March.
Pope, 31 years old, dislocated his shoulder while diving to his left side in a game against Manchester United in early December. According to information shared back then, Newcastle and their goalie came up with a recovery timeline spanning “four to five months“ following surgery, which was required to fix the problem.
Less than two months into that period, it looks like the process has been accelerated and Pope might make his comeback earlier than expected, cutting the rehab time from four to just a bit over three months if he can return by the second or third week of March instead of April or later.
Asked on Monday about Pope’s eventual return during his pre-game presser ahead of Newcastle’s game against Aston Villa, manager Eddie Howe told reporters Pope “has still got some distance to go,” although he sounded positive in saying Pope “is on track for that,” referring to the initial four-month prognosis he was giving after undergoing a satisfactory shoulder surgery back in December.
In Pope’s absence, Newcastle have played Martin Dubravka in goal, who was the club’s No. 1 before the former Burnley goalkeeper’s arrival after the PIF takeover in October 2021.
Most interesting in this saga, however, is Pope’s position ahead of England manager Gareth Southgate’s decision for the upcoming EURO 2024, one that will force the manager into naming three goalkeepers for the final squad submitted for the mid-summer competition.
Pope already lost his place in the England international squad last summer because of another (finger) injury, getting replaced by fellow keeper Sam Johnstone. There is no questioning (for the good or the bad) Jordan Pickford’s role as the GK1 of the national side, but Pope will need to fight Johnstone for the right of making the trip to Germany and the EURO 2024 tourney.