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Pope Red Card Leaves Newcastle With Dilemma For League Cup Final

  • 3 min read

Newcastle United face a goalkeeping dilemma for next week’s League Cup final against Manchester United as they bid for their first major trophy since 1955.

A red card for first-choice keeper Nick Pope early on in the 2-0 home defeat by Liverpool means the England international will be suspended for the showpiece event.

Martin Dubravka, who came on to replace him, is also unavailable because he is cup-tied after appearing earlier in the competition for Manchester United.

That means manager Eddie Howe is left with Loris Karius, who has never made an appearance for Newcastle, and journeyman keeper Mark Gillespie.

“It’s harsh for Nick because he’s been magnificent for us and to miss the next game is a huge blow for him,” Howe said.

“We’ve got a decision to make. Mark Gillespie has trained very well this season as has Loris. They’ve started games away from competitive action in several friendlies and training games. I’d say they’re match ready.

“I would have confidence in them, that’s what they’re in the squad for. They’ve both been very competitive and part of our group all season. I have full confidence.”

German player Karius spent a lengthy spell at Liverpool but was best remembered for two mistakes in the 2018 Champions League final against Real Madrid, after which he was loaned out and eventually left the club last year.

“You can absolutely rely on him,” Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said.

Newcastle have managed only one win in their last seven league games but Howe said they would quickly turn their thoughts away from that run and on to their Wembley date.

“We’ve got to digest this quickly and look forward to what is an exciting week for us,” Howe said.

Pope’s red card came as he was caught out of position by a superb clearance from opposite number Alisson, and in attempting to head the ball clear only managed to handle it well outside of his area with Mohamed Salah set to pounce.

Howe said he thought the decision was harsh.

“I feel really sorry for Nick. It’s a very difficult one, he’s come out and slightly misjudged the ball, I suppose technically it is a handball. I don’t know the rules on the red card,” Howe said.

“I thought it was on the angle with defenders retreating to our goal but that was given. I thought the reaction to that sending off was brilliant from the team.”