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News: Karl Darlow could make first-team return after COVID battle

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Karl Darlow is in line to make his return to the starting XI for Newcastle United against Manchester United after the international break, according to The Times

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Both the 30-year-old and first-choice Martin Dubravka have been ruled out of action so far with Darlow hospitalised after contracting COVID-19. Now back to full fitness, the former Nottingham Forest custodian is expected to return for the trip to Old Trafford, where Cristiano Ronaldo is in line to make his second debut.

Would that be harsh on Freddie Woodman?

Freddie Woodman is enjoying his most sustained run as Newcastle’s starting goalkeeper and, while it’s been a miserable start to the season, has looked solid enough. Indeed, according to FBREF data, the England U21 international has saved 53.8% of the 13 shots on target he’s faced in the Premier League thus far, the sixteenth-highest ratio in the division.

Playing in a dysfunctional team for the first time at elite level, that is nothing to be sniffed at.

Still, Darlow enjoyed a strong run at the start of last season amid more injury problems for Dubravka. At times, there were calls for him to be brought into the England set-up and his performance in a dramatic draw away at Tottenham Hotspur little under a year ago will live long in the memory.

While there was a slight dip just before Dubravka’s return (ironically enough, after a loss to Manchester United), Darlow did manage to amass a save percentage of 66.7% from 81 shots faced.

With Newcastle needing all the experience possible in what looks to be a daunting trip down to Old Trafford, dropping Woodman would appear to be the right decision.

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