NEWCASTLE: Eddie Howe believes Loris Karius has a point to prove at Newcastle United, but not for the reasons many believe.
The Magpies’ head coach has handed the German keeper a fresh start in the Premier League after his controversial, stop-start spell at Liverpool was cut short last summer. The 29-year-old was a free transfer signing after Karl Darlow picked up an injury and the club’s coaching staff wanted to improve on third choice Mark Gillespie.
It’s a move that has raised eyebrows, especially given the high-profile errors that go hand-in-hand with Karius’ name. The new United signing was, of course, to blame for two goals in Liverpool’s 2018 Champions League final loss to Real Madrid, a game which has haunted the player’s career ever since.
However, while Howe believes the player arrives on Tyneside with something to prove, it is not because of that night in Kyiv four years ago.
“I think there has been a period where he hasn’t had that day-to-day contact with a team,” he said of Karius, who is expected to be on the bench for tomorrow’s visit of AFC Bournemouth to St. James’ Park.
“I think he’s improved and got better with every training session we’ve had. Certainly, he’s been really good with the team.
“You don’t want to bring someone in who doesn’t want to play and who can’t play. He can do both. He’s pushing and trained very well.”
When asked about Karius’ Champions League final errors, Howe said: “I haven’t really gone into any depth into his career with him yet, he’s only been here minimal time. But every player that comes in has a point to prove, depending how you look at it.
“We certainly want to help him get to the best levels he’s capable of. From what I’ve seen in training I’ve been very impressed by him, not just his performances but his conduct and how he’s carried himself. He’s fitting into a group that has a really good feel about them, so he’s fitted into that really well.”
The Karius move only materialized when usual stand-in keeper Darlow suffered an ankle injury, which looks set to keep him out of action for the next two months.
It’s understood, having let Martin Dubravka go to Manchester United on loan, the club were unconvinced Gillespie could provide adequate cover for in-form No. 1 Nick Pope, and so they went for Karius.
Howe said: “The injury to Darlow was strange how he picked it up. He was just doing goalkeeping training with two or three goalkeepers and twisted his ankle from a normal shot action.
“With that news, and our 25-man squad still being open at that stage, we decided it was wise to move for someone with experience who could complement the goalkeepers we have, and Loris was the outstanding candidate when we looked at the goalkeepers available, which was quite a small pool.
“He’s a really good age and had some incredible experiences in his career. He’s trained very well.”
Meanwhile, Howe is keeping his cards close to his chest in relation to whether key trio Bruno Guimaraes, Allan Saint-Maximin and Callum Wilson will return to the fold for the clash with the Cherries.
He said: “Everyone has improved but I’ll leave my team news until the time when we get it. It’s been a difficult period for us but hopefully we’re coming out of that. They’re big players for us, we need them back quickly.”
It’s understood that of the trio, Brazilian Guimaraes is the closest to a return before the Premier League closes down for next week’s international break.