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Newcastle United star still 'a number of weeks away' from comeback - has already missed 16 games

Newcastle United issue Nick Pope injury update after outings for both Martin Dubravka and Loris Karius.

Newcastle United boss Eddie Howe says Nick Pope is still a "number of weeks away" from making his injury comeback.

The Magpies have been without the England international since he dislocated his shoulder in the 1-0 win at home to Manchester United on December 2. Days later, Pope underwent surgery and has already missed 16 matches.

There have been suggestions that Pope will return mid to late March but according to Howe: "He’s not on the verge of returning."

Howe continued: "He’s still working his way back, he’s still very much gym based although I think he has done a couple of hand sessions outside but very, very gentle at this stage so I still think he’s a number of weeks away."

Newcastle's dip in form and defensive struggles has coincided with Pope's absence. United had conceded 19 goals in 20 games with the 31-year-old in between the sticks compared to 34 goals shipped since his withdrawal.

The majority of those goals have came with Martin Dubravka in net but the Slovakian missed the 4-1 defeat at Arsenal on Saturday through illness, meaning Loris Karius was handed his first appearance for 12 months.

Asked about his team's defensive record, Howe said: "Yeah, of course we're looking for solutions to everything. There'd be sort of the outcome which is the goals, of course, but there's a whole body of work that goes into how you defend. Whether that's how you press, how you defend in the mid-third of the pitch, how you defend towards the goal.

"Certainly we need to do a better job.I think regardless of how you tactically set up, it's individuals doing their jobs and making sure you don't make individual errors. I think we've been guilty of a combination of a lot of those things in the last few weeks.

"We've proved we can defend, we've proved we can defend even recently and we've put in some really good performances. Certainly we're capable but we just need to deliver it consistently."

On the subject of injuries, here's Newcastle United's full injury list and when each player could return to action:

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