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Rafa Benitez addresses Newcastle’s goalkeeping ‘problem’

Martin Dubravka
Martin Dubravka

Rafa Benitez has backed Martin Dubravka to solve Newcastle United’s goalkeeping “problem” – whether he plays or not.

Dubravka joined the club on loan from Sparta Prague last month.

The 29-year-old was brought to compete with Karl Darlow and Rob Elliot.

Darlow has started United’s last seven Premier League games, but he now faces competition from Dubravka and fit-again Elliot, who has recovered from a recent injury.

Benitez believes that Dubravka has already made a difference on the training field by increasing the competition between the club’s goalkeepers.

And Newcastle’s manager hopes than will translate into fewer mistakes in games.

The keepers are doing well making good saves and sometimes not as well. This has been one of our problems.

Rafa Benitez

“We have had, more or less, the same situation all season,” said Benitez.

“The keepers are doing well making good saves and sometimes not as well. This has been one of our problems.

“We are thinking ‘great’, and then we have this play or situation and we make a mistake and after we make a great save or something.

“With keepers, with defenders sometimes, the consistency is the key. We’re trying to improve that, and the competition will be good for them.”

Dubravka – who hopes to earn a permanent move to United – has quickly settled at the club along with striker Islam Slimani, signed on loan from Leicester City.

“He’s been training fine with the team,” said Benitez.

“Slimani has been in and out (of training). Martin has been fine.

“He’s quite clever. He’s increased the competition between keepers. That is a good thing.

“You see the three of them now and the way that they are working ... they are really competing. That is the positive thing.

“After, we have to decide. He was doing well.”

Meanwhile, defender Ciaran Clark – who suffered a knee injury against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park last weekend – is fit to play against Manchester United.

“Clark is training – he had a knee problem,” said Benitez.