Premier League. Howe provides Pope injury update ahead of Everton encounter

Eddie Howe's pre-Everton media briefing in full
06 Dec 23

Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe is expecting Nick Pope to be ruled out for "around four months" following the goalkeeper's injury against Manchester United on Saturday.

The Magpies face Everton at Goodison Park on Thursday night (kick-off 7.30pm GMT), targeting a sixth win in their previous seven Premier League clashes against the Toffees, who currently occupy 18th place in the English top-flight after being handed a ten-point deduction.

Pope added his name to the Magpies' ever-growing injury list after the England international dislocated his shoulder in the final minutes of Newcastle’s 1-0 triumph against Erik ten Hag’s Red Devils but Howe expressed his belief in Slovakian shot-stopper Martin Dúbravka, who won the club’s 2019/20 Player of the Year award, to deputise strongly in Pope’s lengthy absence.

Howe also commented on Newcastle’s recent Emirates FA Cup draw, with the Magpies set to face local rivals Sunderland at the Stadium of Light in a highly-anticipated third round tie in January.

Here are some of the boss’ main talking points from the pre-match media briefing at United’s Benton-based training ground on Wednesday morning:

On Pope, who was withdrawn in the closing stages of the Magpies’ 1-0 win against Manchester United last weekend due to injury:

“He’s had a couple of appointments visiting specialists. I’m awaiting final news on what’s going to happen. We anticipate he’ll be operated on and there’s no doubt he needs an operation so he’ll be out for a period of time.

“The operation hasn’t happened yet but we’re thinking roughly around four months so a big blow to us but one we expected after the game as soon as you saw the dislocation. We were fearing the worst.

“I think he’d been in the best form that he's been in since being at the football club. He’s naturally down because it’s at a stage where we have so many games, with huge games coming up. He’s got the Euros ahead of him which he was determined to try and be involved in and there’s still a chance for that for him.

“His main determination is to come back for us and you never know what situation we’ll be at that stage of the season. We were thinking of him in that situation because it was another strange injury, with no reason for that to happen in that moment.”

On Martin Dúbravka, targeting a first Premier League start since May, and the Magpies’ goalkeeping union:

“We really believe in Martin. I’ve always had that high opinion of him. Yes, we brought in Nick and wanted to build competition for places and a squad that we felt could really carry us to great success but Martin is a high-class goalkeeper.

“He’s a brilliant shot-stopper and very good with his feet and distribution so no hesitation about bringing Martin into the team and I hope he does really well.

“The whole goalkeeping department has been very strong. They’ve all supported Nick which has been great to see because you want that support for the person that is playing.

“They’ve all performed to a very high level, individually, in training themselves to keep pushing each other to give better performances. I think Martin is experienced enough to know football can change so quickly.”

On drawing Sunderland in the third round of the Emirates FA Cup, with the Magpies set for a first Tyne-Wear derby against their local rivals since 2016:

“I thought someone was winding me up! I didn’t see the draw so I was relying on other people to tell me so, to start with, I thought it was a joke.

“I think it’s a brilliant draw and will be a great game, one that we're looking forward to. It is a long way down the line for us, we have a lot of games before then, so we’ll put it to the back of our minds but certainly something to look forward to.

“You want to play in big games, ones that mean something, and this one means so much to everyone. I was enthused by the draw. It’s a great thing for us because that game comes at the end of a lot of fixtures and our record in the FA Cup the last two years hasn’t been good.

“It’ll be an explosive atmosphere and one we’ve been used to this season, playing in a lot of highly charged stadiums with a lot riding on the games and that’ll be another one.”

On Everton, who currently lie in the relegation zone following a ten-point deduction last month, and Newcastle’s last Premier League trip to Goodison Park ahead of the Toffees’ move to the Everton Stadium:

“They have made big strides as a team. They’re very competitive and the biggest challenge for us is to make sure that we compete as they do.

“They’re a very physical team and have obvious strengths. They will pose questions for us defensively which we have to answer. You have the crowd and that dynamic and the situation they’re in with the points deduction and what that’s done of them collectively.

“We’ll look forward to this game. It’s a big game for us when we go to Tottenham next in the middle of a good run in the Premier League for us. We know our away form has to improve.”

On the current form of Fabian Schär:

“I think I’ve been saying after almost every game how well Fabian has played. His technical delivery, especially on the left-hand side, has been a different dynamic for him but I think he’s handled that so well.

“He’s been playing passes with his left and right foot when he needs to and has built up some good relationships with the players around him. I’ve never seen him in, mentally, such a good place. He has confidence to step forward with the ball, doing it a couple of times against Manchester United, and was a real attacking weapon for us.

“I’m delighted with where he’s at. Firstly, when you’re a centre-half, you have to defend well and I think he’s done that so I’m really pleased with him."

On Lewis Miley's recent involvement with his boyhood club:

“Lewi’s certainly done himself no harm of playing more football, especially with the level of his performance against Manchester United. That would have probably been the hardest game for him, mentally, because it came off the back of a tough week but it was his best performance and that speaks volumes for how good he is.

“I’ve not seen a 17-year-old do what he has done but it doesn’t surprise me from what we saw in pre-season. It's a really tough, physical time but it’s not so much the physical but how you handle it mentally and going day after day with tough training sessions and matches.

“I thought he did really well during pre-season and I think that was a really big part of his development to make sure he was ready for the moments he’s getting now. I just hope he continues to go from strength to strength and I don’t see any reason why he can’t and keep to the high levels that he’s already shown.”

On recent performances, with the Magpies targeting a third successive Premier League win:

“It’s been a big effort from the group. When you look at those fixtures (against Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United) in isolation, they’re all very tough games but the players have grasped the situation that we're in. They’ve really stood up.

“We took confidence from the Chelsea game which was a massive result and took that in the Paris game which is a difficult one to still talk about and then the response against Manchester United.

“My initial impression after that game (against Man United) was that was our best performance of the season and when I watched it back, thankfully, it was the same. It was a brilliant performance by the team from start to finish.

“We had a break between our last game and this one so I’ve got no problems, physically, with the group now. Maybe going forward, that will look slightly different because of the quick turnaround for Tottenham.”

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