Steve Bruce on dropping Martin Dubravka and the TWO Newcastle players who 'need to get themselves up to speed'
Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce has explained why he dropped Martin Dubravka for last night’s Carabao Cup defeat to Leicester City.
Karl Darlow got the nod ahead of the Slovakian, who had to settle for a place on the bench as the game went straight to penalties with the scoreline poised at 1-1.
It was the 28-year-old's first competitive appearance in over a year - his last being a 3-2 defeat at Nottingham Forest in the same competition and at the same stage.
And while there were questions from supporters about Dubravka being named as a substitute, Darlow did no harm in silencing any potential critics.
The former Walsall man saved Harvey Barnes’ attempt in the shootout, but ended up on the losing side as Isaac Hayden and Jonjo Shelvey squandered their spot-kicks.
When asked about the seven changes from the starting 11 that beat Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, Bruce addressed Darlow’s inclusion.
He said: “The only two that weren’t forced upon was the goalkeeper because I think it is vitally important that I keep him. I thought he was immaculate in his work.”
Jetro Willems started his first game since his loan switch from Frankfurt earlier this month, with the 25-year-old providing a comical assist for Yoshinori Muto’s equaliser.
Willems’ performance, alongside Emil Krafth, left Bruce feeling content, though has called on the duo to “get themselves up to speed.”
Both full-backs departed the field in the second half after picking up knocks. There is a wait to see whether the pair will be available for Watford on Saturday.
“He and Emil have got to get themselves up to speed,” said the former Sheffield Wednesday manager.
“I don’t think they have had a great pre-season, obviously on the back of trying to sign here and trying to adapt and play in England.
“But you can see what he (Willems) has got. He will be a good player, so he’ll be OK. We just have to get him used to the Premier League and what it entails.”