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Injured Newcastle United star on track to return ahead of schedule in unexpected boost

Newcastle United could welcome back Nick Pope quicker than expected.

Newcastle United goalkeeper Nick Pope could return from injury ahead of schedule, according to reports.

The 31-year-old dislocated his shoulder during the 1-0 win over Manchester United in December when diving to his left. Pope underwent surgery a few days later and was expected to out until April.

However, both The Times and The Athletic have reported that Pope is on course to make a comeback in mid to late March.

Asked about Pope last week, Newcastle head coach Eddie Howe said: “Nick has still got some distance to go. He was given about four months to return and I think he’s on track for that. As for the team selection, we’ll have to wait and see when he (Pope) returns to training."

In the England goalkeeper's absence, Newcastle have called on Martin Dubravka who has improved in recent weeks but still conceded 26 goals in 13 matches, compared to the 19 goals in 20 games with Pope in between the sticks.

The Magpies currently sit 10th in the Premier League having won just one of their last six games. They exited both the Champions League and Carabao Cup in December but remain in the FA Cup, where they are away to Blackburn Rovers in the fifth round on Tuesday, February 27.

Here's Newcastle United's absentee list in full & each player's expected return date:

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