Eddie Howe defends ‘outstanding’ Newcastle United star after Brighton criticism

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The Newcastle United manager stood up for one current Magpies star ahead of Saturday’s home game with Brentford.

Eddie Howe has thrown his support behind Newcastle United goalkeeper Nick Pope after the England international received criticism in the aftermath of the 3-1 defeat at Brighton and Hove Albion.

On a day when several Magpies stars underperformed during a poor display on the south coast, Pope was questioned over the role he played in the first of the three goals scored by Seagulls striker Evan Ferguson as his hat-trick condemned Howe’s side to a third consecutive Premier League defeat.

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The scoring was opened on 27 minutes when Pope’s poor clearance forced him to make two saves from Kaoru Mitoma and Billy Gilmour before Republic of Ireland striker Ferguson finally converted.

The hosts frontman went on to make the most of what had been an awkward looking display from the former Burnley stopper by completing his first senior treble to give Roberto Di Zerbi’s side a deserved win.

Pope, who was left out of the England squad to face Ukraine and Scotland over the last week, will remain United’s first-choice keeper and will go into Saturday’s home game against Brentford with the words of endorsement from his manager ringing in his ears.

Speaking in his pre-match press conference, Howe said: “I haven’t seen the comments, I just reiterate my feelings on Nick. I think he’s a top goalkeeper, an outstanding player, for us last season he was immense.

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“(He was a) big contributing factor to the fact we had such a good defensive record and we were so consistent as a team. It’s the nature of a goalkeeper’s job I’m afraid. Whenever goals go in, you are judged and looked at but he’s a player of huge quality for us.”

Howe also revealed he is hopeful Sven Botman, Elliot Anderson and Sandro Tonali will all be available for the meeting with Thomas Frank’s side.

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