Lee Charnley must block Karl Darlow from leaving Newcastle United after Steve Howey backed the goalkeeper to clinch a summer transfer.
While speaking exclusively with Football FanCast, former Toon defender Howey said that he would look to leave St. James’ Park at the end of the season if he were in Darlow’s position.
Magpies head coach Steve Bruce dropped Darlow for his side’s clash with Wolverhampton Wanderers last month in favour of Martin Dubravka, who had failed to feature in a single Premier League fixture up until that point after sustaining a heel injury in pre-season.
Reports by The Times claimed Darlow was ‘angered’ at how he was informed of being axed, with word first breaking in the media two days before the goalkeeper was informed, which the Daily Mail later noted had also left some first-team players ‘disgusted’.
Darlow had kept four clean sheets over his 25 Premier League outings this term but impressed beyond his record of shut outs, with the 30-year-old emerging as one of United’s most consistent performers and key to results against Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur.
But Howey now believes Darlow will look for a move away from St. James’ Park once the transfer window opens in the summer, having done as much as he possibly could to earn the number one jersey.
“For me personally, I would leave because I don’t think he could have done any more. That’s the problem with goalkeepers, you’ve got to have two very good keepers, but it’s keeping them happy,” he exclusively told FFC.
“I think Steve Harper, apart from the last little bit of his career, was second string all the time. Which is fine, but as a professional, personally I wanted to play all the time. Darlow’s had a taste of first-team football and done very well. He’ll be thinking: ‘I don’t want to sit on the bench again, I want to play’.”
Like Howey says, clubs need two top options between the sticks in case one sustains an injury as happened with Dubravka last summer, as Newcastle would likely be deep in the relegation zone had it not been for Darlow’s performances most weeks.
Darlow was being tipped for an England call-up earlier in the season such was the level of his displays between the sticks, while Rob Lee exclusively told FFC recently that the ‘keeper had been “our best player by a million miles” and was dropped “for the sake of change”.
That change was not ideal throughout Dubravka’s return against Wolves as he was susceptible to some poor footwork, while Bruce even hit out at the Slovakian for the goal he allowed having got a strong hand on Ruben Neves’ header but was unable to keep the ball out.
“When you look at the goal, we should stop the cross. And when the goalkeeper looks at it, again, probably he’ll think: ‘Could I have done better?” Bruce said, via quotes by Chronicle Live.
Dubravka fared far better against West Bromwich Albion and Aston Villa, proving invaluable on Friday, making it increasingly unlikely that Darlow will be recalled any time soon and giving reason to Howey tipping the Northampton-born ‘keeper to consider a move.
But Charnley cannot afford to sanction a deal, as Newcastle are expected to be tight on funds and have other areas to focus on in the summer transfer window, so keeping hold of Darlow and a more-than-able back-up is surely crucial for United’s Managing Director.