Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez has given his “100 per cent” backing to keeper Martin Dubravka ahead of a crucial Premier League showdown with relegation rivals Huddersfield.
The 30-year-old Slovakia international has enjoyed a fine first year on Tyneside but has been punished for high-profile errors in his last two games, one of which cost the Magpies a point at Tottenham and the other two at Wolves despite his manager’s belief that he was fouled.
However, with Karl Darlow and Freddie Woodman waiting in the wings, Benitez has told Dubravka to pick himself up and carry on.
He said: “After the Tottenham game, I was in contact with him and I was supporting him 100 per cent. After, still it’s the same idea.
“He’s a great keeper, he’s a very good professional, and then every player in every position – like every manager – can make mistakes and it’s how we react, the key.
“He is training harder, if it’s possible, and he is fine.”
Newcastle head into Saturday’s game at St James’ Park sitting just a point outside the relegation zone, but 14 better off than the bottom-of-the-table Yorkshiremen, who have managed just 11 all season.
However, Benitez has warned his players to take nothing for granted against a Huddersfield side which emerged from the Sky Bet Championship alongside his two seasons ago.
He said: “They have a good team spirit – they have had this during the whole season – so I think they will keep doing the same.
“Obviously the key for us is to do well, to score an early goal and then maybe you will have more confidence and it will be more difficult for them.
“But I think it will be a dangerous game because they will try to do their best without feeling too much pressure. Maybe they can express themselves in another way and can be more dangerous.”
Benitez has big decisions to make ahead of the game, with only keeper Rob Elliot and central defender Ciaran Clark unavailable because of back and knee injuries respectively.
One of his most important will surround January acquisition Miguel Almiron, who made his debut at Wolves last time out and is pushing for a first start.
The manager said: “It’s a dilemma, I know that. You have to decide which players have to be in the squad and players who have to wait, and it’s not an easy decision.”