Football's forgotten man Loris Karius will emerge from the shadows and back into the spotlight on February 26 when he lines up in the League Cup final against Manchester United at Wembley.
Karius, best remembered for high-profile blunders in Liverpool's 2018 Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid, is Newcastle United's fourth-choice goalkeeper but, due to Nick Pope's ill discipline and the Magpies' lack of foresight, finds himself back in contention on the big stage.
Why won't Nick Pope play?
England international Pope has been one of the standout goalkeepers in the Premier League this term and part of the meanest defence in the division.
However, a rush of blood to the head in Saturday's match against Liverpool resulted in Pope being shown a red card for handling the ball outside of his own area.
Pope, 30, is now suspended for three games, meaning he misses the League Cup final against Manchester United on February 26 and subsequent league games against Manchester City and Wolves.
What about the second-choice goalkeeper?
Substitute goalkeeper Martin Dubravka entered the fray following Pope's dismissal on 22 minutes and acquitted himself well, though he was powerless to stop Liverpool running out 2-0 winners at St James' Park.
The Slovakian, however, will not come into Newcastle manager Eddie Howe's thinking when he names his League Cup final starting XI as he is cup-tied, having, coincidentally, played for Manchester United in the competition during a loan spell earlier in the season.
Another goalkeeper on Newcastle's books — Karl Darlow — is on loan at Hull City.
The conditions of Darlow's January agreement to join the Championship club do not include the chance to bring him back for emergency cover.
OK, so Karius it is then
German Karius, who joined the Magpies on a short-term contract – which has since been extended to the end of the season – in September is yet to make his debut for the club, but seems certain to do just that in the biggest game in the club’s recent history.
Asked about the 29-year-old’s readiness to do so, Newcastle head coach Howe said: “That was the reason for taking a player of his profile. He has experience of the big games, so I’ve got no doubt or issue over his ability to step in.”
Karius and Mark Gillespie are Howe’s two remaining options for Wembley with Martin Dubravka, who took over from Pope, having played in the competition already this season during his temporary switch to United while Karl Darlow is on loan at Hull.
Howe said: “Nick’s very disappointed, understandably, as we are for him. He’s been magnificent this season for us and he doesn’t deserve to miss the game, but it is what it is and we’ll see what our options are.
“We have Loris and Mark, who have trained really well this season and been part of the goalkeeping team all season. They’re both fit and ready to play.”
Karius has not made a competitive appearance since Union Berlin’s 1-1 Bundesliga draw with Hoffenheim in February 2021, and endured a personal nightmare in Liverpool’s Champions League final defeat by Real Madrid in 2018.
However, asked about his mentality, Reds boss Jurgen Klopp said: “I have no doubt about that. He’s a great goalie, that’s why Newcastle signed him.”