Newcastle’s Nick Pope aiming for injury return in late March


Newcastle United goalkeeper Nick Pope is aiming to return from his shoulder injury in late March.

The 31-year-old dislocated his shoulder while diving to his left against Manchester United in early December, and was initially given a prognosis of four to five months out after requiring surgery.

Pope suffered a small setback a few weeks ago after attempting to step up his rehabilitation but the issue has not made any significant difference to his return date.

Asked on Monday about Pope’s return ahead of Newcastle’s game against Aston Villa, head coach Eddie Howe replied: “Nick has still got some distance to go. He was given about four months to return and I think he’s on track for that.”

A return in late March will give Pope two months to force his way back into Gareth Southgate’s England squad ahead of the European Championship after losing his place as one of Jordan Pickford’s deputies to Sam Johnstone last summer after missing an international camp with a finger injury.

In Pope’s absence, Newcastle have played Martin Dubravka in goal, who was the club’s No 1 before the former Burnley goalkeeper’s arrival. After struggling in his first few games deputising, Dubravka’s form has improved, with the Slovakian making several key saves in Saturday’s 2-0 FA Cup victory over Fulham.

“As for the team selection, we’ll have to wait and see when he (Pope) returns to training,” Howe added on Monday.

Newcastle are 10th in the league having lost their last four games in the competition, though victory over top-four chasing Aston Villa could see them rise as high as seventh, depending on other results.

GO DEEPER

Watching Nick Pope with his family: The travelling, photos with fans and pre-match lasagne

(Matt McNulty/Getty Images)





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