Karl Darlow has done brilliantly this season for Newcastle United. His early-season heroics, no doubt, earned Newcastle some vital points with some of his acrobatic saves. Darlow’s performances mirrored that of Dubravka’s from last season when his performances helped to keep Newcastle out of a relegation fight.
However, Darlow’s performances have slipped ever so slightly recently. That may be just enough of a reason for Steve Bruce to make the change back to Dubravka, who has only made one appearance this season since returning from his heel injury. That was an excellent performance in our 2-0 defeat at Arsenal in the FA Cup.
In an exclusive for The Telegraph, Luke Edwards is reporting that Steve Bruce will go back to our reigning Player of the Season, Martin Dubravka, for the vital match against Wolves at St. James’ Park on Saturday.
It’s a move that some have been calling for Bruce to make. Though as recently as the press conference for our latest defeat at Manchester United, Bruce explained why he was reluctant to make a change at goalkeeper. This is what he said just last week:
“He is [Dubravka] being very, very professional about it and understands.
“I have got a situation- we have got another very, very good young goalkeeper [Freddie Woodman] down in Swansea doing very well too.
“So, in that area of the pitch, we are extremely good.
“And of course, with a goalkeeper, you can only pick one of them.
“At the minute I have stayed with Karl because I think he deserves to be [playing].
“All season we have said how well he has done, and the one thing I need to have is to create that competition.
“So Karl has got the nod at the moment, but as we have seen in football things can change very quickly.
“That does not mean to say he [Dubravka] is happy, which I would not expect him to be.”
But as Bruce said, things can change very quickly. And if Edwards is correct, Bruce has done a u-turn and will hand Martin Dubravka his first league start of the season. He was on a streak of 88 straight starts in the Premier League before his injury.
Bruce did call out Darlow, somewhat, after the loss at Old Trafford when he was beaten at his near post by Marcus Rashford in the first half. This is what Bruce said after the match as published in The Chronicle:
“Karl Darlow has been terrific for us, I haven’t looked at it but a goalkeeper will always be disappointed to concede at his near post.”
If Bruce does make the change, it will be harsh on Darlow. However, he has to pick his best squad. If in Bruce’s eyes, Dubravka gives us the best chance of picking up a win on Saturday, then he may have to make that difficult decision.