Loris Karius' surprise Newcastle United squad omission explained
Karius is in line to make his competitive debut for the club a week today in the Carabao Cup final against Manchester United after Nick Pope was sent off in last night’s 2-0 home defeat to Liverpool.
Martin Dubravka – who came off the bench at St James’s Park – is cup-tied, having played for the club’s opponents in the competition during a loan spell earlier in the season.
Karius, signed last September as a free agent, is next in line to play, though the 29-year-old – who played 45 minutes of December’s 5-0 win over Al Hilal in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, hasn’t “routinely” been named in Howe’s matchday squads.
Instead, Mark Gillespie, 30, has normally been included as the third goalkeeper.
“He (Karius) hasn't been routinely going to away games,” said United’s head coach. “We've mixed up who's travelled as the third goalkeeper. He's been training today. He's ready to play. I've got no issues with his fitness or form.”
Asked if he’d spoken to Karius after the game, Howe said: “I've come straight in here (to the press conference). I will make contact with him, obviously, but I see him and speak with him every day, and, as I say, he's trained very well.”
United signed Karius after Karl Darlow, loaned to Hull City in January, picked up an ankle injury in training.
And Howe was drawn to the experience of Karius when he was assessing the free agents available to the club.
“That was the reason for taking a player of his profile,” said Howe. “He has experience of the big games, so I’ve got no doubt or issue over his ability to step in. He’s continued to improve and impress in training.”
Karius – who left Anfield last summer after his contract expired – hasn’t played a game for an English club since the 2018 Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid.
The former German Under-21 international made two errors in a 3-1 defeat for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Asked about Karius after the game at Newcastle, Klopp said: “He’s a great goalie, that’s why Newcastle signed him, but, of course, unlucky for Nick Pope.”