Newcastle United starting XI hint vs Brighton after key man ruled out for five months

Eddie Howe has strongly suggested he’ll keep faith with the Newcastle United goalkeeper.

Martin Dubravka is set to retain his place in goal when Newcastle United host Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday with Nick Pope still working his way back to full fitness.

The Slovakian has deputised for Pope since the beginning of December after the England goalkeeper dislocated his shoulder. The injury required surgery, ruling the 32-year-old out for five months.

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Pope finally returned to the matchday squad for last Saturday’s 4-1 win at former club Burnley and has come through training unscathed this week. Howe, however, is set to stick with Dubravka, who has missed all-but one of the club’s last 21 Premier League matches.

Howe told NewcastleWorld: “If both goalkeepers were 100% fit that’s a very difficult call but I think Nick is still building himself back to his very best levels and again, similar to the outfield players, building his robustness through training.

“Last week, for me, was very clear, Martin deserved to play and Nick is still finding his rhythm from a long-term injury.

“Nick has had a really good training week, I have to say, I think he’s been really good this week. He’s been the Nick Pope we’ve seen for the majority of his time at Newcastle so he’s certainly in a really good place and building his strength.”

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Howe is also likely to resist temptation to start both Joelinton and Miguel Almiron. Both players came off the bench at Turf Moor last week. Joelinton had previously been sidelined since January while Almiron missed four weeks with a knee issue.

“They’ve trained well,” said Howe. “It’s been a good week for them, they were able to get some good work into their bodies. And yeah, they’re still building their robustness I suppose - it’s probably the best way of putting it because you need the load behind you to enable you to stay fit. They’re two key players.”

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