Dúbravka backing Darlow and Elliot to shine in his absence
Written by Dan King
Martin Dúbravka knows Newcastle United will be in safe hands over the next few matches, despite the goalkeeper being ruled out for the rest of the month with a knee injury.
The Slovakian shot-stopper has not missed a Premier League game since making his Magpies debut in a 1-0 win against Manchester United in February 2018, but will sit out Saturday's home game with Sheffield United and the FA Cup quarter-final clash with Manchester City.
The severity of the injury he suffered against Southampton at the weekend is still being assessed fully, but the 31-year-old is staying upbeat despite the disappointing news and he is backing Karl Darlow and Rob Elliot to shine in his absence.
"Obviously I'm not happy, but that's part of football," he told nufc.co.uk. "Sometimes you get injured and you can't do much. I'm trying to stay positive and calm, and trying to get ready as soon as possible, but hopefully I can be back soon."
Dúbravka was hurt in the 59th minute at St. Mary's, but played on and kept his ninth clean sheet of the season as Steve Bruce's side picked up three vital points.
"That's a credit to my team mates as well, because Southampton didn't create that many chances," said the goalkeeper. "We have to give credit to all the team because they worked so hard - but I have to say also that Southampton, even with the ten players, did a good job.
"It was difficult to play against them, it was difficult to find the space because they defended and were just waiting for one chance or any set piece. I'm glad that we kept the clean sheet - that's the bonus - but for me it's more important that we got the three points."
Saturday will see Dúbravka's run of 79 consecutive Premier League appearances come to an end - a record which the Newcastle netminder has guarded with the same determination that he guards his penalty area week in, week out.
"I was trying to be ready for every game, even if I had small injuries before with my back or with whatever," he admitted. "The people who know me know I want to play every time, even if I'm not 100 per cent.
"Obviously this is bigger than that, so I can't play this (Sheffield United) game, but I'm quite confident that my team mates, whether it's Karl or Rob, will definitely play very well. Now I'm going to support them from the stands.
"They show it on the pitch - Karl has shown it in the cup games - so I'm definitely confident and comfortable with whichever of the keepers will be in goal. I'm going to support them because they provide fantastic support for me as well.
"It means a lot because even Karl came to me the next day and asked how it was. You don't have that connection always, and I've said many times, I'm very grateful for that. Obviously this is a chance for them now but it's good because we are still not safe and I'm quite sure that they will show their ability and show their levels."
Dúbravka's injury was confirmed on Wednesday morning, with hundreds of messages of support following on social media.
"I haven't seen yet, because the news was only announced today and I haven't checked my phone - I will do soon - but I received many positive messages after the game and I'm delighted with that," he said.
"They wish me all the best after every game, so this connection between the fans and our dressing room is fantastic. They came to Southampton, 3,000 of them, and it's unbelievable for me to have that support."
"I'm quite confident that my team mates, whether it's Karl (Darlow) or Rob (Elliot), will definitely play very well. Now I'm going to support them from the stands."