Steve Bruce must strive to ease the emerging tension in his goalkeeper ranks after Karl Darlow was tipped to quit Newcastle United this summer.
That’s according to former England international Paul Robinson, who told Football Insider that Darlow may look for a route out of St. James’ Park after losing his place in the side to Martin Dubravka.
Darlow had started each of the Magpies’ Premier League fixtures this term after Dubravka sustained a heel injury during pre-season, but was ousted for last Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Reports by The Times claimed Darlow was ‘angered’ by the way the situation was handled, having only been informed of Dubravka starting two days after speculation first appeared in the press.
Members of the United first-team were also surprised at how the decision was instigated, with Darlow proving to be one of the Toon’s most consistent performers this season.
Robinson believes Darlow could now look for a move to another Premier League side in the summer, should Dubravka remain as Bruce’s first-choice shot-stopper from here on.
“It is important now that clubs have two top goalkeepers. Almost every club has a very able number two,” the former Tottenham ‘keeper said.
“Karl Darlow is in the best form of his career. He can probably feel hard done by to have been brought out against Wolves. He has had a good run of games and played very well. The big problem he has is that Dubravka, a world-class goalkeeper, is sat on the bench waiting.
“Dubravka did not put a foot wrong before his injury. It was only a matter of time before he came back in because managers are loyal to their number ones.
“Darlow always had a difficult task. What Darlow has done is given himself an opportunity of playing again, if Dubravka doesn’t perform, or getting a move elsewhere in the Premier League.”
Any further conflict between Bruce and Darlow will only increase the tensions emerging at Newcastle, who may have to consider cashing in on the 30-year-old at the end of the season if the situation cannot be resolved.
Darlow had plenty of suitors two summers ago when it was expected that he would leave St. James’ Park, and his stock will have likely risen due to his efforts between the sticks this term.
Bruce has previously praised Darlow for producing a number of top-draw saves and exceeding expectations, while Sky Sports pundit Matt Murray was adamant that the number one jersey was his to lose earlier in the year.
“Since Darlow has come in, he’s been absolutely awesome. He makes save after save, even games where they’ve been beaten heavily – against Manchester United he was still excellent. He was Man of the Match against Tottenham,” Murray said, via quotes by The Shields Gazette.
But, like Phillips points out, Bruce will need an able number two who can step in should Dubravka suffer a dip in form or an injury, and that may not be Freddie Woodman either once his Swansea City loan deal expires.
Woodman is not believed to be willing to return to Newcastle just to take a seat on the bench, having kept 17 clean sheets in 30 Championship appearances this season. He is also rumoured to be a target for Arsenal, who are striving to land competition for Bernd Leno.
If Woodman will not return and Darlow is unhappy being the back-up again, Bruce will have to hit crisis mode to secure a suitable replacement for the duo when funds are likely to be tight, at best.