Newcastle United goalkeeper Martin Dubravka has suggested the return of Karl Darlow will help improve his performances.
Joining from Sparta Prague in January 2018, Dubravka has become the Magpies’ undisputed number one, starting every Premier League fixture since.
But after setting the bar high in his first year at St James’s Park, the Slovakian has recently come under scrutiny for the first time in his United career following well-publicised incidents at Tottenham and Wolves.
In Saturday’s friendly with CSKA Moscow, in which Rafa Benitez’s side travelled to Spain for a week’s training, the 30-year-old watched on as Darlow and Freddie Woodman played a 45-minute half each.
With the game signalling a return to fitness for Darlow and Woodman tasting first-team action during the FA Cup, Dubravka has welcomed the competition - believing it can make him better.
"It's good that we have competition in every position,” said Dubravka.
“It's not only about the keepers, it's also about the other players.
"Karl (Darlow) did well in the game and so did Freddie Woodman in the cup games.
"It's good for me because I know I need to put my level higher and be focused about my job."
Dubravka, who has made a total of 78 saves this term, was speaking ahead of his North East Football Writers’ Player of the Year award having only just landed back from Spain a few hours earlier.
With new boys Miguel Almiron and Antonio Barreca fresh among the United ranks, Dubravka explained why it was a beneficial trip ahead of tomorrow’s crunch clash with Huddersfield Town.
He added: "We spent some good time together and we trained well and hard.
"We trained twice every day - so I think that can really help us.
"And with the new players coming into the team, it helped them them also to get us to know us a little bit better."