Newcastle have been handed a major blow in their bid to end their lengthy trophy draught in the Carabao Cup final against Manchester United.
The Magpies have improved significantly this season under Eddie Howe, with players like Bruno Guimaraes, Miguel Almiron and Kieran Trippier all enjoying memorable campaigns.
The squad has done well to reach only its second ever League Cup final - the first coming in 1975/76 when they were beaten 2-1 by Manchester City - but they will have to compete against Man Utd without one of their key players.
Nick Pope's red card vs Liverpool
Newcastle were sitting in fourth at the time of Liverpool's visit to St James' Park on Saturday evening. Hopes remain for a first Champions League campaign since 2002/03, but they were slow out of the blocks against a clinical Reds outfit.
Darwin Nunez received Trent Alexander-Arnold's lofted pass to fire past Nick Pope in just the tenth minute before Cody Gakpo made it 2-0 only seven minutes later.
Liverpool are way off the Champions League qualification pace but their recent victory over Merseyside derby rivals Everton showed positive signs and they unsettled Newcastle from the outset.
To make matters even worse, Pope was sent off for handling the ball outside his area, having charged off his line in an attempt to gain possession before Mohamed Salah beared down on goal.
Martin Dubravka is cup-tied
That Pope red card has rather large implications for Newcastle and their trophy hunt.
It means the former Burnley goalkeeper - who was sent off for the first time ever in the Premier League - will be suspended for three games, missing the Carabao Cup final against Man Utd on Sunday 26 February and subsequent league games versus Manchester City and Wolves.
Martin Dubravka replaced Elliot Anderson against Liverpool but he will not be available to manager Howe for the United game, having played for the Red Devils twice in the earlier rounds of the competition.
Dubravka will still likely play in the games against City and Wolves, but there'll be another glovesman between the sticks at Wembley.
Loris Karius will play
Liverpool fans don't have particularly glowing memories of Loris Karius, given his costly mistakes in the 2019 Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid.
However, the German stopper is now primed once again to step into the spotlight with Newcastle short on alternatives.
The 29-year-old spent two years on loan with Besiktas and another with Union Berlin before his Reds contract expired in 2022. He joined Newcastle in September that year as back-up to Pope with Dubravka leaving for United on loan and his deal was extended until the end of the 2022/23 season in January.
Karius had been on the bench with Pope playing for the first seven league games of the season but hasn't appeared in a matchday squad since late October. He is yet to make his official Newcastle debut and hasn't played a senior game since a 1-1 draw with Hoffenheim while at Union Berlin in February 2021.
The only other alternative would be 30-year-old Mark Gillespie, who has been on the bench once this season - the 2-1 Carabao Cup win at Tranmere in August which Karl Darlow started. Darlow has since gone on loan to Hull.
Source : 90min