Martin Dubravka has revealed that he will likely miss our opening day fixture against West Ham following surgery.
The Slovakian shot stopper picked up a foot injury while on international duty and Steve Bruce had already confirmed that he was a doubt for the start of the campaign.
Dubravka – who also missed the start of last season due to injury – has cemented himself as our number one since his arrival, despite stiff competition from Karl Darlow, Mark Gillespie and Freddie Woodman.
The latter was set for a move to Scott Parker’s Bournemouth, but the plug was pulled at the last minute once the severity of Dubravka’s injury was confirmed.
Here is what he told Slovakin outlet sport.sk:
“I would love to start the first match of the new season. However, this is highly unlikely.
“The doctor told me that it was individual that each patient responded differently.
“He has had a positive experience with me, as, after the mentioned operation, the member predicted a two-month break for me, but I was back after three weeks.
“Now, the procedure was finally longer than planned, so a longer convalescence will probably be necessary.
“But it was important to solve it, so I take it for granted.”
Bruce now has a dilemma over who he turns to for the start of the new season.
Darlow didn’t let him down when called upon this time last year, and was arguably our best player until he was dropped to make way for our number one.
The 30-year-old was hard done by to have been left out of the team, but he could be handed another golden opportunity to stake a claim in Dubravka’s absence.
A braver move would see Bruce give 24-year-old Woodman the nod, who has excelled while on loan at Swansea over the last two seasons.
He helped guide the Welsh side to a play-off place last year, but has never really been given a chance to shine on Tyneside.