Pope dislocated his shoulder during Saturday’s 1-0 win over Manchester United, and while the joint was quickly popped back into position, the goalkeeper has undergone a series of scans to ascertain the extent of the damage.
If, as is feared, the problem requires surgery, Pope will be sidelined for at least three months, ruling him out of action until March at the earliest.
The 31-year-old has been a huge part of Newcastle’s success under Eddie Howe and has arguably been the Magpies’ most consistent and influential player this season, with his performances on the Champions League stage in particular having earned him a series of plaudits.
The Magpies could sign a short-term replacement, with former Manchester United shot-stopper David de Gea already having been touted as a potential option. De Gea left Old Trafford in the summer, and could be signed immediately given that he is a free agent after failing to sign for another club during the summer transfer window.
Howe and the rest of Newcastle’s recruitment team will reassess their options on a regular basis, however as thing stand, their preference is to give Dubravka every opportunity to step into the breach created by Pope’s absence.
The Slovakia international spent three-and-a-half years as Newcastle’s number one prior to Pope’s arrival from Burnley in the summer of 2022, and returned to St James’ Park last January after an unsuccessful loan spell at Manchester United.
He came off the bench to replace Pope in the closing stages of Saturday’s win over Erik ten Hag’s side, and will be restored to the starting line-up for Thursday’s trip to Goodison Park to take on Everton.
His performances in the next four weeks will dictate Newcastle’s next move, but the hope is that Dubravka will prove a more-than-capable deputy and remove the need to sign another goalkeeper in January.
Even with Pope unavailable, the Magpies still have three senior goalkeepers at their disposal. Loris Karius, who stepped into the side for last season’s Carabao Cup final defeat at Wembley, is expected to be on the substitutes’ bench against Everton, with Mark Gillespie also available for selection if required.
Pope’s latest injury setback is a major blow to a player who previously suffered a dislocation of the same shoulder during his time with Burnley, both in terms of his anticipated absence domestically over the next few months and the potential impact on his hopes of claiming a place in the England squad for next summer’s Euros finals in Germany.
Pope has been omitted from Gareth Southgate’s last two squads, but would have had a strong case for a recall with Aaron Ramsdale having fallen out of favour at Arsenal. However, if Pope is sidelined until well into the spring, he could struggle to convince Southgate to hand him a place in England’s 23-man squad for the finals.