Eddie Howe is going to be forced to make at least one change to the Newcastle United team that drew with Leicester City when his side face Chelsea on Sunday.
It is the final game of the Premier League season, with Newcastle hoping to go out in style with a win at Stamford Bridge. They will also be looking to finish in third place, but that might depend on how Manchester United do in their remaining two games.
But Newcastle’s main objective is complete. We are going to be in the Champions League next season thanks to Monday’s 0-0 draw with the Foxes.
With mission accomplished, Howe might be tempted to make some changes to his starting lineup for the final game of the season. However, one change will be enforced.
Martin Dubravka to replace Nick Pope when Newcastle face Chelsea
That is because Nick Pope, who made a massive save to win Newcastle a point on Monday, is going to be unavailable. The Toon goalkeeper has undergone surgery for a hand injury and will miss the final game of the season, as well as England’s upcoming Euro 2024 qualifiers.
According to the Athletic, Pope is going to be replaced by Martin Dubravka. That is no surprise given that the ‘outstanding‘ Slovakian has been on the bench ever since he returned from his loan spell with Man United at the start of the year.
It will be Dubravka’s second Premier League appearance of the season, with his first coming back in February. He was brought off the bench in the 2-0 defeat to Liverpool, replacing Elliot Anderson early on following Pope’s red card.
However, the 34-year-old has not started a game for the Magpies since last season. The last time he was in the Toon starting XI was the final game of last season, when Howe’s side beat Burnley 2-1 at Turf Moor.
Now Dubravka is going to return to the side, but it is likely to just be a one off. That is because the Athletic add that Pope is expected to be fit for the start of pre-season.
It will be great to see Dubravka in action, and he is certainly a safe pair of hands for the final game of the season. There is a chance that it could be a goodbye for him, as it is unclear whether or not he will remain at St James’ Park.