Newcastle United journalist Liam Kennedy has stated his desire to see Martin Dubravka return to the side this weekend.
Eddie Howe will be taking charge of his first game in charge of the club on Saturday as they take on Brentford at St. James’ Park. One of the big talking points heading into the game is set to be what sort of team Howe is going to put out and how it will be different to his predecessors Steve Bruce and Graeme Jones.
One possible change could come between the posts. Slovakian international Dubravka hasn’t featured at all this season, having missed the start of it with a foot injury. He could have been back sooner, but sadly suffered a setback and has only recently come back into contention, finding himself on the bench for their past two games.
Speaking on the latest edition of NUFC Matters, Kennedy explained how he wanted to see Howe pick Dubravka to start the game, insisting that he is someone that can make a real difference to the side.
He said: “I think Dubravka, for me, is the biggest change that probably has to be made. And that’s no criticism of Karl Darlow, to be honest, but I think it’s one that, for me, he’s a game-changer in the sense that he’ll win points for you.”
TIF Thoughts on Liam Kennedy’s comments about Martin Dubravka and Newcastle United…
Do you think Dubravka should go straight into the team when fit?
Kennedy’s argument is certainly backed up by the statistics when you look at their respective numbers from last season.
Dubravka had a higher save percentage (69.5 % compared to 66.7%) and clean sheet percentage than Darlow (23.1% compared to 16%).
On top of that, he is also more accurate when it comes to his passing, having a 72.6% success rate as opposed to 50.1%, giving Newcastle a better chance to retain possession (all stats from FBRef).
So if Dubravka is well and truly fit – and given his inclusion on the bench in their last outing and that he was deemed fit enough to be called up by his national side during this international break would indicate that he is – then it does seem the obvious decision for Howe to make to switch the goalkeepers up and put the 32-year-old in.