Newcastle United injury warning after 'quality' played ruled out for five months

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Newcastle United have been without No.1 goalkeeper Nick Pope since December.

Eddie Howe says Nick Pope must earn his place back into Newcastle United starting XI as the goalkeeper eyes a place in England’s Euro 2024 squad.

The 32-year-old has spent the past five months on the sidelines after dislocating his shoulder during the 1-0 win at home to Manchester United on December 2.

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Pope has this week taken his first steps back into full training and could return for the visit to former club Burnley on Saturday, although the final three matches against Brighton & Hove Albion, Manchester United and Brentford are viewed more realistic.

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Although Howe admits his team have missed Pope, the Newcastle boss has faith in Martin Dubravka, who has played 25 times since.

Howe said: “When you have a quality player like Nick, you’re going to miss him, but I said the same regarding Kieran [Trippier]. You’re going to miss individual players because they have unique skills to them, but that doesn’t mean someone else can’t come in and still benefit the team and do very well.

“Martin has done very well. I’ve been really pleased with his strength of character. The team has had some difficult moments, and Martin has had to go through those periods with the team. But I think in recent weeks, he’s performed very, very well.

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“The key thing with Nick is that he is going to have to earn his place back. I would say the same for any player, in any position. No shirt is given to you, you have to earn it. I think that’s really healthy for the group.”

With Crystal Palace’s Sam Johnstone ruled out until next season, a goalkeeping spot behind Jordan Pickford and Aaron Ramsdale has opened up in Gareth Southgate’s squad.

It was 12 months ago Pope was last selected by Southgate, a squad he was forced to withdraw from because of a hand injury.

Asked about Pope’s Three Lions ambitions, Howe replied: “I don’t know the answer to that, you’d have to speak to Nick on that personally. I’m well aware of individual aims and needs, and dreams and goals. I’m not oblivious to that, but I always have to make the right decisions for Newcastle, not for the individual.

“I’ve been very strong on that in previous moments – it’s about our team and our success. Of course, you hope the individuals within the team can then achieve what they want to.”

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