Newcastle United player likely to leave after FA Cup call at Sheffield Wednesday – five things
Sheffield Wednesday progressed at Newcastle’s expense thanks to a Josh Windass brace. A goal from substitute Bruno Guimaraes set up an interesting finale at Hillsborough but The Magpies were unable to take their chances as the match ended 2-1 in the hosts’ favour.
It was United’s first defeat since August, ending a 15 game unbeaten run in all competitions.
Here are five takeaways from the match…
Martin Dubravka set to stay at Newcastle United with Loris Karius likely to leave
Eddie Howe naming Martin Dubravka in Newcastle’s starting line-up in place of Nick Pope was a strong indicator the Slovakian is set to stay on Tyneside for the remainder of the season. Dubravka spent the first half of the 2022-23 campaign on loan at Manchester United, making two appearances before being recalled early by The Magpies.
And after returning to the bench at Arsenal on Tuesday night, Dubravka made his first start of the season for Newcastle at Hillsborough. The 33-year-old can only play for two clubs over a single season, as per FIFA rules, so his start means that while he could still technically sign for another club in January, he wouldn’t be able to play for them until next season.
In all likelihood, Dubravka is set to stay. The same cannot be said for Loris Karius, who missed out once again with Karl Darlow favoured on the bench.
Dubravka's unplanned return is likely to force the former Liverpool goalkeeper to search for a new club with his contract expiring this month.
Howe made eight changes from the side that drew 0-0 at Arsenal on Tuesday night with only Sven Botman, Sean Longstaff and Joelinton keeping their place.
No Allan Saint-Maximin
There were concerns ahead of kick-off with Allan Saint-Maximin missing from the matchday squad. The French winger was expected to start in the cup having failed to start a league match since August.
Saint-Maximin’s absence also got fans speculating on social media as they read into the player’s ‘new chapter’ Twitter post made in the days building up to the match.
Eddie Howe confirmed before kick-off that Saint-Maximin’s absence was due to illness and the player took to social media during the game to post: “Always behind you guys, I will be back very soon.”
After the match, Howe suggested the Frenchman could be back in contention for Tuesday night’s Carabao Cup quarter-final at home to Leicester City.
Alexander Isak’s return
On a dismal evening for Newcastle, Alexander Isak’s return from injury was certainly a welcome boost. The 23-year-old hadn’t featured for The Magpies since September due to a thigh injury and did look a little rusty at times as he played the opening 45 minutes.
Newcastle’s record signing posed a sustained threat as he tested goalkeeper Cameron Dawson on a couple of occasions with a close range header and an angled strike. You’d expect a fully match sharp Isak to have scored at least one of those chances as both he and his team-mates were wasteful on the night.
Isak was replaced by Chris Wood at half-time and the New Zealand striker wasted an even better opportunity to draw United level in the closing stages as he skied Joelinton’s well-weighted pass well over the crossbar with only the goalkeeper to beat.
The Magpies had 22 shots, seven of which were on target, yet were only able to find the net with a scrappy goal that would have been ruled out had it been a Premier League match.
The ‘Magic’ of the FA Cup
There was no video assistant referee in place for the FA Cup clash. And it was to the detriment of Newcastle as Sheffield Wednesday opened the scoring through Windass as he stroked the ball in from close range – despite being in an offside position, the goal was given.
The striker doubled Wednesday’s advantage soon after with a goal Newcastle could have no complaints about.
Newcastle could have felt hard done by had the goal they pulled back through Bruno Guimaraes not also been awarded despite the Brazilian being offside.
While somewhat refreshing not to have VAR intervention, it would have been justified for both sides on Saturday night – not that it would have made much difference in terms of the result.
You can never rule out an FA Cup shock when Newcastle are involved. The 1-0 home defeat to Cambridge United last January was undoubtedly one of the low points of Howe’s first season in charge.
This defeat is similarly disappointing, but the fact it ends 15 game unbeaten run and six game clean sheet record does soften the blow somewhat. It has been a phenomenal season for The Magpies on the whole – one where we’d almost forgotten what a defeat feels like – but this was easily the worst moment so far.
Looking ahead to Leicester
Howe took a risk making eight changes and it ultimately didn’t pay off as the squad players failed to make the most of their opportunity. The Magpies only posed a sustained threat following the introductions of Kieran Trippier, Bruno Guimaraes, Miguel Almiron and Joe Willcok but the damage was already done by then.
It’s clear the strength of Newcastle’s squad is not quite there yet to be competitive in three competitions with reinforcements needed this month.
But it could have been a different story had Newcastle been more clinical in front of goal, but now Howe has a difficult task to dust his players off and get them ready to bounce back in Tuesday night’s crucial Carabao Cup quarter-final at home to Leicester, which was always the more important match.
Beat The Foxes and this defeat is soon forgotten – lose and a bit of panic starts to set in as attention focuses solely on the league.