Karl Darlow has spent the majority of his Newcastle United career as an understudy to both Rob Elliot and Martin Dúbravka.
Unfortunately, the Slovakian goalkeeper suffered a heel bone injury in August that has caused him to spend 118 days on the sidelines; missing 17 Premier League matches in the process.
In his absence, Darlow has been nothing short of a revelation. His stellar goalkeeping performances have earned him a spot in WhoScored's 'Team of the Month' for October and November and England fans are touting the 30-year-old to make his first appearance for The Three Lions.
With Dúbravka now fit to start against Sheffield United, Steve Bruce has a serious selection dilemma to deal with.
What has Steve Bruce had to say about the situation?
Newcastle boss Steve Bruce hinted in his press conference yesterday Darlow is at risk of losing his starting place to Dúbravka for The Magpies game against Sheffield United on Tuesday evening.
"I’m delighted with the goalkeeping situation we’ve got, We have two quality goalkeepers.
"Martin reminded us at Arsenal of what a good goalkeeper he is. Karl has been very good all season. So I’ve got one of those awful ones (decisions) to make - let’s hope I pick the right one."
In recent weeks, Bruce has claimed that shirt is Darlow's to lose. It now seems as though the choice is not so simple and Bruce is seriously considering dropping Darlow.
Dúbravka made his first appearance of the campaign against Arsenal in the FA Cup. Despite a 2-0 loss, the Slovakian made some great saves and that has evidently influenced the manager's potential decision.
What do the stats say?
Dúbravka and Darlow are undeniably in the peak of their respective careers. The stats show that both men are capable of performing at a high level and therefore they both deserve to be playing regular Premier League football.
In the 2019/20 season, Martin Dúbravka averaged a save percentage of 70%. This season, Karl Darlow save percentage is at 69.5%.
For comparison, Manchester United's David de Gea boasts a save percentage of just 61%.
Darlow is conceding more than Dubravka, at 1.6 goals per game against 1.5. However, it's easy to argue that stat is due to Newcastle defensive incapabilities as a whole, and so Darlow cannot be blamed. In fact, they certainly would have conceded more without him.
Darlow has also proved his penalty saving abilities this term – he got a strong hand to deny Bruno Fernandes from the spot earlier this term.
As the stats prove, Steve Bruce has got the almost impossible task of trying to pick between two of the league's best performing 'keepers.