Newcastle United goalkeeper Nick Pope has given a candid account of his finger injury
Newcastle United goalkeeper Nick Pope has lifted the lid on his finger injury that was first suffered during a practice penalty shootout in training last season.
Pope faced Matt Targett during a spot-kick contest between Toon stars and came out with a dislocated finger – something which curtailed his season early last term. But the 31-year-old stopper insists he is fully fit and ready for action ahead of the demanding 2023/24 campaign.
Pope said: “I give credit to Matt Targett – he was the first to make it dislocate in training. It was a penalty that he was obviously never going to take, so I wasn’t best pleased after that!
“It’s one of those things as a goalkeeper. You probably dislocate fingers most seasons, really.
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“I think goalkeepers go through that sort of thing quite regularly, so I wouldn’t say that it was anything that ever put me in doubt of being able to play my best. I did it in a game and played on, and did it the day before a game and played the next day, so it was always just something that needed fixing whenever the time was right.
“It was always going to be an eight-week turnaround at best, so I knew I was just trying to get through to the end of the season and then get it sorted.
“Luckily, getting the Champions League a week early gave me an even better window to know I could get ready for this season, so that was a real bonus.”
Pope enjoyed 14 clean sheets last season and will be looking to at least equal that this term in the Premier League. One of them proved to be absolutely crucial against Leicester City as it sent United to the Champions League with Pope making a crucial stop before the end.
After that Eddie Howe pulled him out of the squad for an operation meaning he missed the 1-1 draw with Chelsea.
He said: “We played Leicester on a Monday night and obviously secured the Champions League, so on the Tuesday morning, I was off to Wigan of all places to get it done.
“It was just a finger that kept dislocating too easily, which is not ideal for a goalkeeper. The joint kept dislocating, so I had to get it stabilised. I had a kind of anchor put in it, and then got it taped up with some cotton wool.
“There were probably four or five times over the course of six months where it happened. There was one at the World Cup, one in September and a couple around games after that.
“It wasn’t like it was happening all the time, and it was normal stuff setting it off really, nothing drastic. But every time it dislocated, it was getting weaker and the joint was getting weaker.
“It was one of those situations where if I did nothing about it, it was only going to get worse. I wasn’t pushing it back in – I left that to the doctor. I didn’t really want to look at it to be honest, it would happen, then I would glance down at my hand and then look away.
“It happened in a game once – against Bournemouth – but the rest of the times were in training, really. You just kind of get used to it really, and try to protect it the best you can. It was strapped up, and my gloves have kind of spines round the back of them, so that was helpful.
“When it came out, the first time was probably the worst in terms of the pain, then it kind of eases off, which is a good thing pain-wise, but probably not a good thing for your health.”