Steve Bruce is convinced Newcastle unearthed a diamond when they snapped up keeper Martin Dubravka from Czech football.
The 30-year-old Slovakia international, who arrived at St James’ Park on an initial loan deal from Sparta Prague in January last year, this week signed a new six-year contract after establishing himself as a fixture under both Bruce and predecessor Rafael Benitez.
Dubravka was virtually unknown in England when Benitez brought him to the Premier League and then handed him a permanent deal, but he has since established himself as a hugely reliable performer.
Bruce said: “Martin has a had a wonderful few months since he’s been at the club and has been rewarded, so in that respect, we’re all delighted.
“I could only look from afar, but in the three months that I’ve been working with him, he’s a very, very good goalkeeper, so we’ve unearthed one because not a lot of people had heard of him.
“It’s essential for any big club. If you’re going to do anything, you need a good goalkeeper. That is the number one position for a lot of people, so we’re delighted that he’s tied himself up to the club.”
Managing director Lee Charnley is in discussions with other players, including the Longstaff brothers Sean and Matty, as the club looks to tie up its young talent as well as some of its senior men.
Bruce said: “Lee is in discussions with them – I think they’ve got the same agent, so there are discussions with the agent.
“But these things don’t take one day any more. With Martin, it’s taken the best part of two and a half months. I’m quietly confident we will get there.
“They are two young lads who have obviously got a big, big future and we want to tie them up as best we can.”
In the meantime, Bruce’s focus will be on Saturday’s home clash with Wolves and the hunt for just a third league win of the campaign.
However, they will have to do it without in-from defender Fabian Schar, who has a knee problem, and striker Andy Carroll, whose hopes of a first start since his return to the club have been dashed by a groin strain.
Bruce said: “He [Carroll] came on for half an hour against Manchester United and had another 25 minutes against Chelsea, so he was manoeuvring into a position where he could start.
“Look, it’s not to be. It’s disappointing for everybody, but we have to carry on.”
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