Eddie Howe hints at potential Newcastle United departure

Eddie Howe’s revealed why he started with new signing Nick Pope in goal – and left Martin Dubravka on the bench.

Pope, signed this summer from Burnley, started yesterday’s 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest at St James’s Park. Dubravka, the club’s longstanding No.1, was on the bench.

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Howe spoke about the “difficult” choice he had to make in goal after the game, which was decided by goals from Fabian Schar and Callum Wilson.

“Very, very, very difficult decision,” said United’s head coach. “I feel I’ve got three quality goalkeepers to pick from in Karl (Darlow), Nick and Martin. And Martin, last season, was excellent.

"Certainly, my decision to pick Nick wasn’t a reflection on him (Dubravka) or his abilities or my thoughts on him. It’s more a reflection on on Nick – and how good I think he is.”

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Newly-promoted Forest didn’t have a shot on target, though England international Pope – who has signed a four-year deal at Newcastle – had to deal with a number of crosses into the box.

Howe said: "I thought he was excellent with his ability to come for high crosses. I thought he commanded his box really well, he kicked well, so I was really pleased.

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Newcastle United goalkeeper Nick Pope.

"He didn’t have a lot to do with his hands. That’s a good sign. There’s competition for places in that position.”

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Howe also has Mark Gillespie available, and Steve Bruce, his predecessor, took the unusual step last summer of naming four senior goalkeepers in his Premier League squad as Dubravka and Darlow were unavailable due to injury and illness respectively at the start of last season.

However, Howe is unlikely to follow suit, and one goalkeeper could leave – either on loan or a permanent deal – despite his keeness to keep them all at St James’s Park.

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Asked if one would leave before the transfer deadline, Howe said: “It’s too early to say. I don’t know (yet).

"I don’t want anyone to leave, but I’m well aware that four’s a difficult number to carry.

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"My wish would be to do that, but obviously I’ve got to think of the players as well. We hopefully make the right decision.”