The next time you wake up without having to attend your job, assuming it just runs from Monday morning through Friday evening, Newcastle would have played their last game of the month and would be thinking about either flying to Dubai or other places around the globe.
That is, of course, because there is an international break happening after this weekend when the Magpies will be visiting Nottingham to face Forest in their final game before 1) playing international games or 2) attending Newcastle’s warm-weather camp in Dubai, UAE.
Anyway, and not getting too ahead of ourselves and what is to come, there is an oddly-scheduled Premier League game to play on Friday. It’s the second one in a span of six days after last Sunday’s 2-1 win over Wolves and the last one before the even-odder and seemingly endless run of matchups against Mancunian teams (vs. Man Red on Apr. 2).
We’ll hand you further details in the game preview where we will be laying out some talking points, discussing the formations, etc... but if there is something you should know about what Eddie Howe discussed in his presser, then that’s very simple: Joelinton is out for the second game as he will complete his two-match ban this week, Anthony Gordon was announced out for the next two games a week ago (so he won’t be available tomorrow), and Bruno is banged-up but ready to go (what a surprise!)
Also, Jonjo Shelvey will (maybe) play against Newcastle while still-on-loan Chris Wood will (definitely) sit this one out as his deal prevents him from facing the Magpies for the remainder of the season.
Howe took to the microphones and addressed the most pressing questions by the media on Thursday, ahead of the matchup against Nott Forest at The City Ground scheduled for Friday, March 17th.
Last Sunday marked the first win in six attempts by Newcastle, and Howe seems to really be delighted by it.
“Yes, very [delighted with the goals scored].”
“I’m the type of manager that lives for goals, lives for those moments. You train and work hard for everyone to see that.”
“It’s such an incredible moment when your team scores and to see those two goals go in was a really good moment for everyone connected with Newcastle.”
“Especially the three points that came with them and hopefully it’s the start of a run.”
That “run” might have started on Sunday, but it will need to continue tomorrow, on Friday, at the ground of Nott Forest with the second victory in a row in the Premier League and the first on the road before entering the international break. In front of Howe there will be a magnificent manager in Steve Cooper himself. Here’s what Howe had to say about his counterpart.
“[Cooper] deserves huge credit for the job he’s done. Firstly, to get his team promoted from a very difficult position, then stabilising in the Premier League, I think their performances have just got better and better so we know it’s going to be a very difficult game for us.”
“It can’t be underestimated how difficult is [to get a new squad gel]. I know from my own experiences, to manage a large group of players, especially when you have players who aren’t involved in playing or are involved in the matchday squad, to keep that harmonious on the same track, it is very difficult.”
Newcastle will go against a couple of familiar faces (although one of them won’t be able to step onto the pitch on Friday) in what could be an emotional day.
“Jonjo Shelvey last year, and Chris Wood, played huge roles in keeping us in the league in a difficult period for the football club.”
“Both players were so highly regarded by us, players and staff.”
“They really stood up and that’s not forgotten by me or anyone connected with the club. I’m sure they both left with our best wishes and we were very thankful for the contribution they gave to the club.”
Will the young trio of Sven Botman, Bruno, and Alexander Isak retain their starting gigs and feature together from the get-go once more on Friday?
“They’re top players. They have a good age and they all have improvement in them so I think they’re exciting for us in the here and now and in future seasons.”
“From my perspective, they’ve got great mentalities to the game and they’re desperate for success.”
Before today’s presser, Howe had already spoken to beIN Sports about Bruno, saying that his midfielder of choice is going through some health bumps, though the Brazil international shouldn’t miss Friday’s outing in any scenario.
“[Bruno] has a great work ethic, desire and commitment for the team. Bruno has had a couple of nasty bangs on his ankle.”
“He is playing through those and he is returning to his best form. We back him to do that very quickly.”
“He wouldn’t want to rest he is desperate to play. He is fit to play and has no injury.”
One who missed last Sunday’s starting XI was Miguel Almiron, although he came off the bench and scored the game-winning goal for the Magpies. Here’s what Howe said about that decision.
“(I didn’t just drop him). I just felt a rest and a refresh of him would do him the world of good.”
“I would not say he’d had a tough six weeks. I think he has been excellent.”
“Maybe he hasn’t had the goals he had earlier in the season, but by his high standards that is very difficult to replicate on a consistent basis.”
Staying on that beat, and discussing how the reserves changed the game last weekend against Wolves, Howe said the following while also issuing a little warning to the board for future transfer windows.
“Yeah, I think the lads that came in did really well. They gave a really good account of themselves.”
“We’ve always said competition for places is key to good results. I think we have that in the squad when everyone is fit. When we don’t, the squad is quite light in terms of bodies.”
Regarding the availability of the rest of the squad members ahead of Friday’s clash against Nott Forest, Howe didn’t share any shocking news so everybody should be ready to go with the exception of Anthony Gordon and Emil Krafth (both known to be out in advance).
“(The players available are) similar to last week.”
“We’ll wait and see who’s fit. Nothing major hopefully but it’s a case of few players have missed training this week but we hope to have the majority of players available.”
“I think we said we have a couple of knocks. It was an intense game last week, really intense physically so we’ve been managing and nursing a few players.”
So, what about resting oft-starters Callum Wilson and Miguel Almiron against Wolverhampton? Is that going to remain the same? Is that something related to the lack of depth and viable alternatives to deploy on a weekly basis without guys tiring mightily?
“I think it’s vital that you have the opportunity to [rotate] from time to time. It’s a long season with the cups and the Premier League, etc.”
“Also, the way that we play is demanding. We ask a lot of our players physically so it’s nice to be able to pull someone back and give them a chance to reset and then bring them back into the team.”
“Everyone will have their own opinions on the team and when we pull a player out because of their own physical needs... that can be over hyped but it’s a natural process.”
Miggy and Wilson not starting for Newcastle last weekend opened the door to, mainly, Alexander Isak to start and have his best game since arriving in Tyneside last summer. Here’s Howe on Isak’s last outing.
“Really good—that’s how he’s trained.”
“As I said before he got the concussion, he was in really good form in training and I was desperate to see him execute that on the pitch. I felt he did that against Wolves and was outstanding in every respect.”
“Physically he was very, very good. Technically, very good. And his goal, I still enjoy watching that even now a week after, so hopefully that’s the start of a really good run for him.”
“[Isak] is a different player to anyone that we have in the squad.”
“He’s got really good versatility to his game. I think he can do a bit of everything which is a really good asset for us to have. I think he brings a different dimension but I’d say every player has their own strengths and uniqueness that makes the team slightly different.”
“[My challenge is to help Isak] hit the levels that he did against Wolves on a consistent basis. Can he replicate that energy, that intensity, that quality every single week? That’s easier said than done because that’s what you want from all your players.”
“Certainly, [last Sunday set] a new benchmark in terms of his level.”
Another surprising starter last weekend was Jacob Murphy. He’s often come off the pine while under Howe’s management, but he had virtually never started games before.
“[Murphy] is brilliant behind the scenes. [He brings] a real positive energy every day in training. He works and hones his skills meticulously.”
“He’s a real player that wants to invest time and try and elevate his game to another level.”
“I’m really pleased to see him come in and do well on the back of that work. I thought he was excellent last week.”
Another great player this season and reborn since Howe’s arrival more than a year ago has been former-Arsenal midfielder Joe Willock, who also excelled at SJP facing Wolves last Sunday.
“Joe was very good last week. He epitomised the team in terms of his energy and the ground he covered, but also his quality.”
“He impacted the game in a really good way and I’m delighted for Joe because he’s a really likeable character.”
“His assist for Miggy, the pass, the weight of the pass...”
Regarding Anthony Gordon’s availability going forward, for those wondering, the gaffer said that the plan is for Gordon to be available for the game on Apr. 2 against Manchester United, and that the staff and the player “are trying.” Howe added revealed that “the scan [on Gordon’s injury ankle] wasn’t plain sailing,” and that “it wasn’t a shoe-in.”
Contrary to earlier reports, Howe revealed too that Gordon’s “wasn’t a week-or-two injury.”
- Date: Friday, March 17th
- Kick-off: 20:00 BST / 16:00 EST
- Location: The City Ground, Nottingham (England)
- Broadcasts: fuboTV (CAN) — NBC Sports App, USA Network, nbcsports.com (USA) — Sky Sports Premier League, Sky Ultra HD, SKY GO Extra, Sky Sports Main Event (UK)
For all your international watching needs, check LiveSoccerTV.com.