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Newcastle United have endured a disastrous afternoon, picking up zero points and losing one of their most important players for the Carabao Cup final next week.
Going into the game against Liverpool on Saturday evening, Eddie Howe knew how important the game was in the battle to finish in the top four in the Premier League. Although the Magpies currently sit 4th, there are a plethora of teams congregating behind them to mount a challenge.
One of those teams is Liverpool, who knew that a win would take them to within six points of Newcastle with a game in hand. A defeat, however, would all but end their hopes of recovering their domestic season after a shambolic first half to the season.
Two early goals from Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo were enough to secure all three points for the Reds, with Nick Pope’s red card in the 22nd minute – just five minutes after Liverpool went two goals up – all but ending the game as a contest with three-quarters of the game still to play.
Although the loss will hurt Eddie Howe and his team, the red card to Nick Pope will undoubtedly hurt more. The England goalkeeper has been absolutely vital to their success this season and losing him for the biggest game of their season is a monumental blow.
Sadness in the Newcastle camp
Understandably, the Newcastle dressing room are gutted for Pope. Speaking after the game, Allan Saint-Maximin said that it had been a “very bad day” for the side. He added:
“I feel sad for Nick Pope because he tried to help the team. It’s a bad red card because he won’t be able to play in the cup final. He helped us to be in that situation, so we need to support him and get behind him as a team.”
Manager, Eddie Howe, said that his goalkeeper was “visibly upset” but that he hadn’t yet had time to talk to him about the situation. He went on to suggest that the rules surrounding the red card were a little harsh:
“I don’t know the rules on red cards outside the box but for me, it was a harsh reaction. It’s harsh for Nick because he’s been magnificent for us and to miss the next game is a huge blow for him.”
Nick Pope: suspended for the League Cup final
Backup Martin Dubravka: cup-tied after appearing for Manchester United in the competition
Third string: Lloris Karius pic.twitter.com/EWBZxGd6Ru
— B/R Football (@brfootball) February 18, 2023
Who will come in for Nick Pope?
If losing Nick Pope for next week wasn’t bad enough, the fact that Newcastle’s second-choice goalkeeper is also ineligible to play in the final is another kick in the teeth. Martin Dubravka spent the first half of the season on loan at Manchester United and played in a Carabao Cup game for them. As a result, he isn’t allowed to play against them in the competition this season.
This means that Eddie Howe has three possible options. He can either go with 30-year-old Mark Gillespie who has only ever played as high as League One in the English football pyramid, Loris Karius whose career has been freefalling since the Champions League final in 2018, or recall Karl Darlow from his loan spell at Hull City.
None of these options are likely to fill the Newcastle fans with much hope ahead of the cup final. Karius has never played for the Magpies while Gillespie only has three appearances in three years. Meanwhile, Karl Darlow was shipped out to Hull City because he wasn’t deemed good enough.