Newcastle United and Manchester Red will meet once again next Sunday for the 27th game of their respective domestic seasons, this time at the comfy confines of St James’ Park upon Tyneside.
None of these two are getting into this matchup boasting the best run of results, mind you, with the Magpies having won their last two after losing the two prior games and drawing the fifth-to-last matchup... and Man Red currently on a two-game skid in which they lost one and drew the other after winning two and drawing another match.
You know what happened the last time these two played each other on neutral ground, so we’re not going to revisit that story here and now.
Howe took to the microphones and addressed the most pressing questions by the media on Friday, ahead of the matchup against Man Utd at St James’ Park scheduled for Sunday, April 2nd.
First things first: how’s that Dubai tan, gaffer?
“The Dubai break was good. You can see I’ve got a nice glow... That was sarcastic, I was in a cap and in the shade!”
“Training was good, we enjoyed it and we worked hard during the break.”
“The break has been good for some players, and we’ve had the opportunity to rest some players who have been carrying niggles and problems.”
Will Anthony Gordon and Nick Pope (called up by England but ultimately withdrew) be fit for Sunday’s clash against Man Utd?
“I don’t know the answer for Gordon currently. He did a very small part of training on Wednesday so we’ll see how he’s came through that today.”
“Pope felt a problem in his thigh after the Wolves games. He didn’t train in the build up to the Forest game and then completed that game with a bit of discomfort. He’s trained this week.”
And what about our forgotten man Miggy, out for at least one more month?
“I don’t see that [timescale] changing. I’d love it to. I’d love him to beat the timescale given, but I just don’t see it currently.”
“He’s making really good progress. I think he’s pain-free. I don’t think there’s any long-term issues. I think it’s just a case of that’s the time it will take for the muscle to full heal.”
So I think we’re four weeks off (a comeback), maybe slightly less. But yeah, he’s making really good progress.”
Will Joelinton be back available and thrown straight into the starting XI on Sunday?
“[It is] huge to have him available. Joelinton’s a huge presence, not just physically, but the others lads know how good of a player he is. He’s a huge player for us. To have him back is a huge lift.”
If Jo doesn’t play... what about youngster Elliot Anderson?
“He’ll have an important role. He’s proved his worth and had a massive moment for us. He gave us energy and quality. I was really pleased with his impact.”
Any news about Botman’s virus and availability?
“Sven suffered a nasty bout of food poisoning. I don’t think he was alone in the Netherlands’ camp so he left early to get himself back up to speed.”
“He’s trained with us since he’s returned so he should be fine.”
Alexander Isak has been sublime of late. Anything to say about that?
“I’ll see him for the first time today. I’m not aware of any problems [he had after Sweden duty].”
“He’s got himself into a really good place. He’s getting fitter every game and his ability has never been in question for us. He’s got raw talent.”
“He has a brilliant way about him off the pitch and on the pitch he’s electric & a really exciting player. Complements what we have and the players are excited to play with him. I’m really excited about the future for him and it’s just the start.”
Is the month of April going to end being a season-deciding one?
“It’s a massive month. This will really define what we achieve this season.”
“We have Manchester United first, need to focus on that, analyse that cup-final defeat & learn from that. We’ve tried to take the emotion out of it & look to improve.”
On Manchester’s front, Casemiro won’t be eligible to play as he’s suspended for Sunday’s game. Marcus Rashford, in a similar turn of events as those involving Nick Pope, was back training with the group and is expected to be on the pitch by the time the ball gets rolling two days from now after missing England dates through the past few days.
- Date: Sunday, April 2nd
- Kick-off: 16:30 BST / 11:30 EST
- Location: St James’ Park, Newcastle (England)
- Broadcasts: fuboTV (CAN) — SiriusXM FC, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo, nbcsports.com, Telemundo, NBC Sports App, USA Network (USA) — SKY GO Extra, Sky Sports Main Event, BBC Radio 5 Live, Sky Sports Premier League (UK)
For all your international watching needs, check LiveSoccerTV.com.