Loris Karius is set for Newcastle United’s incredible debut in the EFL Cup final, but he has the backing of former manager Jurgen Klopp who says the opportunity “is what he worked for”.
Karius is likely to feature for Newcastle against Manchester United at Wembley next week in the club’s first major final in 24 years.
The former Liverpool goalkeeper has yet to play for the Magpies and has only come off the bench eight times in all competitions since signing in September.
But Nick Pope was sent off against Liverpool on Saturday and his deputy Martin Dubravka is drawn after spending the first half of the season on loan at rivals Manchester United.
Karl Darlow was loaned out in January, leaving only Karius and Mark Gillespie.
Karius was released by Liverpool at the end of last season after failing to make it into Klopp’s first team. His last appearance for the Reds was in the 2018 Champions League final when he suffered a concussion before making two costly mistakes.
But Karius now has Klopp’s support, as the Liverpool boss said: “You can rely on him, there’s no doubt about that.
“He is a great goalkeeper. That’s why Newcastle signed him. Of course Nick Pope was unlucky at that point, very unlucky.”
Asked if this was a chance for Karius to get away from the final defeat against Real Madrid, Klopp replied: “Absolutely. It’s something he definitely worked for all the time.”
Newcastle manager Eddie Howe did not link the game to Karius, saying his side would “see what options we have”, but he also outlined the German’s “experience in big games”, keeping six clean sheets in Liverpool’s path to this finale.
“That was actually the reason he took his profile,” Howe said. “He has experience in big games. I do not doubt and do not doubt his ability to do this. He continues to improve and impress in training.”
Newcastle are fourth in the Premier League but have not won since reaching the EFL Cup final, and their manager is relieved that no one will be distracted now.
“We are happy that the final is here. I didn’t want the wait to be long,” Howe said. “I want to get the game, prepare well for the game and try to win the game.
“As much as you don’t want to talk about it, everyone has been talking about it. I would not criticize the players for focusing on the final before the Premier League, but there have been talks about it.
“I am happy to get the game, play and prepare this week. I think we’re ready for it.”