Even though he has only played four times, Martin Dubravka has pretty much put the subject of Newcastle goalkeepers to bed.
Impressive displays have helped Newcastle beat both Man Utd and Southampton with clean sheets, a total of seven points from a possible 12 helping United move a little bit clear of the relegation zone.
Sunday saw yet another assured performance, as Dubravka completed 90 minutes in the friendly against Royal Antwerp without conceding.
However, it was a game played in three thirds of 45 minutes each and young replacement Nathan Harker took over for that final period.
Very unlucky that his first action after 20 seconds was to pick the ball out of the net, Rafa Benitez saying it was a a difficult one for the 19 year old as it was right in the bottom corner.
There were 22 of the travelling 24 players who took part in the friendly, long-term injury Islam Slimani sitting it out, whilst Karl Darlow also missed.
After the 1-1 draw, Rafa Benitez revealed that the keeper has ‘discomfort in his shoulder’ and ‘we have to be careful with him’.
With the game a week on Saturday, Rafa says he thinks Darlow will be ok to be involved but of course there must be at least a small question mark as to whether that will be the case.
It was a bit of a surprise when Rob Elliot didn’t travel to Spain and his selection for the Republic of Ireland appeared to indicate there wasn’t any fitness issues with the Newcastle goalkeeper.
However, this weekend Elliot has pulled out of the Irish squad to face Turkey on Friday and been replaced, the news being that it is a back problem that has ruled him out.
Martin Dubravka will of course be in goal against Huddersfield barring injuries and Rafa will hope he comes back fine from his 10 hour flight to play UAE in Thailand, Slovakia’s latest friendly.
Rafa Benitez asked if Karl Darlow will be available for Huddersfield:
“We think so.
“He has a little discomfort in his shoulder.
“We have to be careful with him – that is it.”
Also asked about the performances of 19 year olds, keeper Nathan Harker and attacking player Victor Fernandez:
“I think they were both fine.
“Nathan was unlucky because the first shot (he faced) was a goal.
“It was quite difficult, bottom corner.
“After that he was fine – (with his) distribution and (took up) good positions.
“I think that it was a great experience for him.”