Newcastle United midfielder and England Youth international Joe Willock is reportedly nearing the final phase of his recovery from an Achilles injury suffered last November, as confirmed by manager Eddie Howe ahead of the game against Nott Forest last Saturday.
Howe (obviously) ruled out Willock for that match ahead of kick-off, but he sounded hopeful to have his midfielder available in the near future. However, Howe did not provide a specific date for Willock’s return to the field as neither the manager, the player, nor the club want to rush a return that might end up causing a setback in Willock’s recovery.
It’s worth noting that before suffering his current Achilles injury, Willock had already missed time before this same season with a hamstring issue. Willock, in fact, could only appear in three Premier League games and two Champions League matches before getting sidelined, logging a combined 238 minutes of action in those two competitions.
Despite his limited participation, Newcastle has felt the absence of Willock’s presence if only because of the shallow roster they have had for the largest part of the season because of the many injuries affecting all lines of Howe’s lineup, including the midfield and the final-third positions of the squad where Willocks tend to play.
“It’s an Achilles tendon injury,” Howe stated. “The medical team have been building him up gradually.”
Willock’s absence, along with Elliot Anderson’s long-term injury, Joelinton’s season-ending surgery, and the year-long suspension of Italy international Sandro Tonali has left Newcastle in a precarious situation entering the final—and crucial—months of the seas.
Howe praised the performance of Bruno, Sean Longstaff, and Lewis Miley, who have stepped up in the absence of their teammates and were on the starting XI last Saturday, but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t like some reinforcements (those he couldn’t get through the January transfer market) in the shape of returning players.
“The injuries have brought inconsistency to our performances,” Howe said after Saturday’s victory at Nott Forest. “We have to focus on the players we do have to find ways to improve their performances to help the team.”
Willock is not expected back through February, mind you, but in a reasonably possible outcome for the young lad he should be making his return at the start of next month or by mid-March if all goes according to plan.
“[Willock is] doing well at this moment in time,” Howe revealed on Saturday. “Joe is working really hard with the sports science team. He’s at the final stage of his rehab.”