Nick Pope will be suspended for next weekend’s Carabao Cup final vs Manchester United, with Martin Dubravka also cup-tied; watch Manchester United vs Newcastle live on Sky Sports Football on February 26 from 3pm; kick-off 4.30pm
By Sam Blitz
Newcastle will pick one of Loris Karius or Mark Gillespie to play next week’s Carabao Cup final against Manchester United at Wembley, amid a goalkeeper crisis at the club.
Nick Pope was sent off for the Magpies in their 2-0 Saturday Night Football defeat to Liverpool for deliberate handball, meaning the England international will be suspended for the final.
Pope’s replacement in goal against Liverpool was second-choice goalkeeper Martin Dubravka – who also cannot play in next week’s final as he played in the Carabao Cup for Manchester United earlier this season.
Did you know?
Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka will only receive a Carabao Cup winners medal if his side lose to Manchester United in the final. The goalkeeper played twice for Erik ten Hag’s side in the earlier rounds this season.
With Karl Darlow sent out on loan to Championship club Hull City for the rest of the season, that leaves just Karius and Gillespie as eligible goalkeepers who can play for Newcastle next Sunday.
“They are our options,” Howe told Sky Sports after the game. “They have started games away from competitive action, several friendlies and training games. I would say they are both match ready.”
Asked if he has confident in those two goalkeepers to start a Wembley final, Howe said: “Yeah of course, that’s what they are in the squad for. I have got to say: I know everyone here won’t have seen how well they have trained, but they are both very competitive and have been part of the group all season.”
Karius joined Newcastle on a free transfer in September after being released by Liverpool at the end of last season. He has never started a game for the club since joining and has not played for any club since a 1-1 draw for Union Berlin against Hoffenheim in February 2021.
The German goalkeeper’s last appearance for an English club was his Champions League final outing for Liverpool against Real Madrid in 2018 – where he made two high-profile errors which led to goals in a 3-1 defeat.
Karius passed straight to Karim Benzema to give Real the lead, before letting Gareth Bale’s long-range effort squirm through his body.
The German goalkeeper left the pitch in tears and never featured for Liverpool again, spending three years on loan in Turkey and Germany.
The other current contender to start in goal for Newcastle next weekend is former Motherwell goalkeeper Gillespie, who has been at the club since 2020.
The 30-year-old has played just three Carabao Cup games for the Magpies since his arrival – all of them coming in his first season at the club.
Redknapp: I’d pick Gillespie over Karius
Former Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez believes Howe will already know who is his preferred goalkeeper for Sunday’s final.
“He will know already who is the No 3 because normally you talk with the goalkeeping coach every week, every day,” the Spaniard told Sky Sports.
“You will know how they train, who has the better character, which one can deal with the pressure of a final.
“You can’t talk about the last performance. You have to talk about what you can expect from him in a crucial moment like a final. It’s how they train and how they do their mentality every day.”
Sky Sports’ Jamie Redknapp believes Gillespie should get the nod over Karius – due to the latter’s previous history of under-performing in the final.
“I think you pick Gillespie then, if you talk about the pressure of a final,” said Redknapp.
“The difficulty is: That back four has been so efficient all season. They’ve been brilliant. (Sven) Botman and (Fabian) Schar have been magnificent and they have a good relationship with the goalkeeper. This week, whoever it is will have to get used to the defensive shape and it is someone who has not worked with that back four as well.
“Who would have thought this was going to happen today? You can’t make up how unlucky they have been. But [Howe] has one of his biggest managerial decisions to make. He’s got two goalkeepers who haven’t played a lot of football. It’s very tough for him.
“Do you go with who has played more under-23 of reserve football? Do you go with form this week?”
Newcastle attacker Allan Saint-Maximin admitted that the club need to support Pope after suffering the disappointment of missing the club’s first cup final in 24 years.
“It’s a very bad day. I feel sad for Nick Pope, because he tried to help the team,” said the French winger. “It is a bad red card for the team because he will not be able to play in the cup final.
“When you have a goalkeeper like him, he did everything to help us be in that situation. We have to support him as a team. But for sure it’s a bad day.”