Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez has highlighted the importance of Newcastle winger Kenedy and goalkeeper Martin Dubravka to Newcastle’s survival bid.
Kenedy and Dubravka came to Newcastle last season on initial loan spells, with Kenedy returning this summer on a year-long loan from Chelsea, whilst Dubravka was made a permanent signing for £4m. The signings were the two highlights of a poor summer of recruitment for the Magpies, and the two must play at an elite level from now until the end of the season if the Toon have any hope of staying up.
Before the season started, Benitez claimed Newcastle were stronger than they were last year, thanks to the long-term additions of Kenedy and Dubravka in his squad, and heaped praise on Dubravka’s wonderful performance against Southampton during the 0-0 draw this past weekend.
"He was crucial for us with Kenedy and [Paul] Dummett coming back from injury last year in January," Benitez replied when asked about Dubravka, as quoted by The Chronicle.
"Why I said we were better this year in terms of squad is because Dubravka and Kenedy were here from the start of the season, whereas last year they were not here.
“So I think he's an important player for us; not just because of the saves that he is making, but because of his character and his attitude, too. He is very professional, he is very positive - so he's someone that is always good for any team and is a key voice in the dressing room."
Dubravka has been as impressive as he was last season, keeping two clean sheets in the league so far, and almost single-handily keeping Newcastle in games that they really should have lost by two goals or more.