Rafa Benitez reveals Martin Dubravka's hidden role at Newcastle
Rafa Benitez says Martin Dubravka is as important off the pitch as he is between the posts.
The Newcastle United goalkeeper was outstanding in Saturday's goalless draw against Southampton.
Dubravka, signed on a permanent deal from Sparta Prague in the summer, made several first-half saves at the St Mary's Stadium.
And the 29-year-old, an influential player last season after arriving on loan in January, claimed a series of balls and crosses delivered into the box after the break.
"He was crucial for us with Kenedy and (Paul) Dummett coming back from injury last year in January," said United manager Benitez.
"Why I said we were better this year in terms of squad is because Dubravka and Kenedy were here from the start of the season, whereas last year they were not here.
"So I think he's an important player for us, not just because of the saves that he's making, but because his character and his attitude too.
"He's very professional, he's very positive – so he's someone that's always good for any team, and is a key voice in the dressing room."
Asked if Dubravka was taken for granted because of his consistency, Benitez added: "It's true. It's not easy to have a very good keeper, but when you have one then it's important.
"We have to give credit also to the defenders, because he's making good saves, but the team as a team is defending quite well. In general, anyway, because against Southampton there were a couple of things that we have to improve.
"The main thing is that he gives confidence to the defenders, and I know from experience that this's crucial to the team and for your confidence."
Newcastle are 19th in the Premier League ahead of Saturday's home game against Watford.