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29-year-old in, £4.05m-rated star out: Benitez must make this key change against Man United

Newcastle United supporters have been reasonably satisfied in the Transfer Tavern in the last few days after seeing their team secure a decent point away at Crystal Palace on Sunday, thus edging them closer to Premier League safety.

Rafa Benitez’s men went into their clash with the Eagles off the back of drawing 1-1 at home to Burnley in their preceding league outing, thus extending their winless league run to three games dating back to their 1-0 success at Stoke City on New Year’s Day. And that streak now stands at four as although Mo Diame gave the Magpies a first half lead at Selhurst Park, Luka Milivojevic’s penalty ten minutes after the break sealed a deserved point for Roy Hodgson’s side, thus keeping them two points clear of the North East giants in the Premier League table.

Subsequently, there have been many satisfied Newcastle fans in the Tavern in recent times, several of whom are hoping their side can build upon their back-to-back draws by going one better and beating Manchester United at St James’ Park on Sunday.

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And much talk in the Tavern among our resident Magpies supporters has been about who Benitez should start against Jose Mourinho’s Red Devils, and many feel that January signing Martin Dubravka should get the nod ahead of the £4.05 million-rated goalkeeper Karl Darlow (as per Transfermarkt).

The 29-year-old made the move to St James’ Park on deadline day last month on loan for the rest of the campaign, with Benitez finally landing a goalkeeper after months of speculation given the slight concerns over the capabilities of both Darlow and Rob Elliot.

The former has had the gloves for the Magpies’ last six Premier League games, and while he has only conceded six goals in that time alongside keeping two clean sheets, he hasn’t always looked totally convincing – he’ll even be disappointed not to have saved Milivojevic’s penalty on Sunday given he got a strong hand to it.

Ultimately, there remains concerns over Darlow’s overall authority of his penalty area and indeed his distribution, and against a United side who are likely to have much of the ball at St James’ Park on Sunday, Newcastle have to keep possession well when they have it.

And one of the reasons Benitez reportedly brought Dubravka in was because of his ability to use his feet, so while it remains to be seen how good a shot-stopper he is at Premier League level, he is surely one-up on Darlow in the distribution and composure ranks.

Clearly, Benitez wanted to bring a goalkeeper to the club and appears to have wanted to do so ever since the end of last season, and neither Darlow nor Elliot have done enough since then to convince him otherwise, hence he went out and loaned Dubravka in for the rest of the season.

And with just 12 games left to play, the Magpies need every point they can get between now and the end of the season to avoid the drop, and it remains debatable whether Darlow would actually gain them any points, or in fact lose them some.

And with Benitez wanting a new shot-stopper, he now must back him and pick the 29-year-old ahead of Darlow against United on Sunday.

Newcastle fans… what do you think? Let us know!

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