Newcastle have confirmed they’ve recalled Martin Dubravka from his loan spell at Man Utd, and multiple sources claim whether a replacement is required will be down to Erik ten Hag.
The Slovakian veteran, 33, was a surprise loan signing by Manchester United on deadline day of the last summer window. A season-long deal was agreed and a £2m fee was paid, with Dubravka earmarked to become David de Gea’s primary back-up.
Loans between clubs in the upper echelons of the table are rare and Dubravka’s stint at Old Trafford appeared to indicate why.
Despite winning the Magpies’ Player of the Year award in 2020, Dubravka quickly fell behind Tom Heaton in Man Utd’s goalkeeping ranks.
He made just two appearances for Ten Hag’s side – both in the League Cup – and was far from convincing in his second outing against Burnley.
It stands to reason a club competing for the same objectives as a rival would not loan a player they believed can seriously contribute.
Dubravka did little to help the Red Devils and per Newcastle’s official website, the option to recall Dubravka at the mid-way point has been triggered.
Will Man Utd stick or twist?
That leaves Ten Hag with three senior goalkeepers on his books given Dean Henderson is on loan with Nottingham Forest.
Heaton will officially become De Gea’s No 2, while 23-year-old Nathan Bishop will be promoted to No 3.
Man Utd had been heavily linked with a move for Borussia Monchengladbach’s Yann Sommer in December. The idea there was for Ten Hag to land a high-class deputy to De Gea who it now appears will pen a long-term extension at Old Trafford.
Swiss veteran Sommer, 34, could be available for a cut-price fee this month given he’s entered the final six months of his deal.
However, Bayern Munich could scupper Man Utd’s plans as they search for a replacement for Manuel Neuer who’s suffered a broken leg.
Man Utd’s move for Sommer has received little by the way of updates of late. Regardless, both the Manchester Evening News and ESPN’s Rob Dawson report a decision on whether to sign a replacement for Dubravka is up to Ten Hag.
Both sources suggest a decision one way or the other hasn’t yet been made. The ball is therefore seemingly in Heaton’s court to prove he’s good enough to back-up De Gea and play when called upon in the cup competitions.
If Heaton is deemed worthy, the spotlight will then fall on Bishop. The 23-year-old lacks top flight experience and is yet to make his first-team debut for the club.
A club the size of United cannot afford to be caught short in a position as vital as between the sticks. If they deem Bishop isn’t ready to for the first-team in the event of an injury crisis, a more experienced stopper could be targeted this month.