Eddie Howe was reportedly ‘not entirely comfortable’ with letting Karl Darlow leave on loan, and the decision is now haunting him, with Loris Karius one of two goalkeepers available for the Carabao Cup final.
Newcastle are gearing up for the biggest game in the recent history of the club. Indeed, they’ve not reached the final of any competition since 1999.
But their resurgence in recent years has been capped off by a Carabao Cup final against Manchester United. In the form they’ve been in this season, the game should have been a fairly even contest.
Newcastle are two places below their opponents in the Premier League and have actually been better placed for much of the season.
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They’ve been in top form, and will have been raring to go when they reached the final. However, Nick Pope – one of their standout performers this season – being sent off in their last game was a big blow.
That in itself is would have been a hindrance for the Magpies. The Englishman has kept 16 clean sheets in all competitions, including four in five league cup games, and he’s conceded just once in the tournament.
However, it becomes even more of a problem when you consider second-choice goalkeeper Martin Dubravka is cup tied. And with Darlow having been allowed to leave on loan, Karius – who has never played for Newcastle – is the only option.
Craig Hope reports Howe wasn’t sure on letting Darlow leave and that will now be haunting him. Howe was ‘not entirely comfortable’ with letting either Dubravka or Darlow leave on loan, he writes in the Daily Mail.
If just one of those men had been left at the club, an experienced goalkeeper would be in the sticks for the final. Indeed, Dubravka has played 132 times for Newcastle and Darlow 100 – more than half of those in the top flight.
Hope added it ‘felt like they [Newcastle] went a goal down in the cup final’ when Pope was sent off.
That’s not to say Karius isn’t a decent option. In his last season at Liverpool he kept 16 clean sheets in all competitions.
However, his final game saw him have a shocker in the Champions League final, in which the Reds lost to Real Madrid. The German has not played a competitive game in England since.
Magpies boss Howe says Karius is “ready to play,” as is Mark Gillespie, who has only ever played three games for the club. However, he’d surely have preferred to have a goalkeeper that’s had recent experience in England between the sticks.
It does feel that Newcastle’s chances of winning the final are now slimmer than they were.