Callum Wilson given ‘certain’ Newcastle United return date as Alexander Isak position questioned – Q&A
Newcastle United have a weekend away from Premier League action, but there is still plenty to discuss.
Our Newcastle United writers Miles Starforth and Dominic Scurr answer questions about The Magpies’ start to the season, the injury situation at the club and the international break…
Has the international break come at a good time for Newcastle United?
MS: Yes and no. On the one hand, it’s given Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin extra time to get fit, but, I think, Howe and his players will have wanted another game quickly after the Bournemouth fixture given their frustration at the performance and result. Also, there are no guarantees all Howe’s internationals will come back unscathed, as we’ve seen with Alexander Isak and Bruno Guimaraes.
DS: Possibly not. Newcastle will head into the match against Fulham having played just one game of competitive football in 27 days and it’s a game they really need to win after some frustrating results. Though Fulham are in a similar boat themselves.
Having a fortnight to dwell on what was probably Newcastle’s worst performance of the season against Bournemouth last time out is not ideal and a quick turnaround may have helped. Had a game been played this weekend, Wilson may well have been back in contention while Saint-Maximin is still likely to miss the trip to Craven Cottage regardless of the extended break.
Are any players unlucky not to be called-up to their national teams?
MS: You’d have to say that Dan Burn and Matt Targett, at the very least, should be in the conversation when it comes to England call-ups given their form for Newcastle. As for Joelinton, he can’t be too far away from a Brazil call, though that squad is exceptionally hard to break into given their quality.
DS: Targett’s progression through the England youth system and the current level of competition at left-back spot should tick a lot of boxes for Gareth Southgate. Targett feels he would have to play out of his skin for Newcastle in order to be considered for a call-up but he can’t be too far away if the likes of Luke Shaw and Ben Chilwell suffered injuries. Burn is unfortunate too given players in far worse form at club level continue to get call-ups but it’s not a surprise at this point.
Thoughts on Newcastle's start to the season?
MS: I think we’re all frustrated that the team hasn’t picked up more points, but, importantly, Howe’s team have been competitive in every fixture - and have only lost once. And had they not had a goal wrongly chalked off following a pitchside VAR check earlier this month, they would be in seventh place - and ahead of Chelsea and Liverpool. It’s been a positive start overall.
DS: It’s been one of fine margins. We could quite easily be sat here in the international break with the side unbeaten with a good few more wins. Eddie Howe’s side have been a joy to watch at times and it’s been great to see the side play with such a purpose, identity and intensity, but the results haven’t quite followed. They have been unfortunate at times with injuries and questionable officiating but you have to make your own luck to a degree and a lack of conviction and cutting edge in the final third has often thwarted them this season.
What is the injury latest at Newcastle?
MS: It seems certain that Callum Wilson will be back for the Fulham game. The striker was close to playing against Bournemouth, but Howe erred on the side of caution - and that’s understandable. Allan Saint-Maximin may not be back for the game, and we’re now waiting for an update on Alexander Isak, who has had to withdraw from the Sweden squad due to injury.
DS: It sounds like Newcastle could be welcoming Wilson and Elliot Anderson back for the Fulham game. Isak’s injury isn’t thought to be serious but very little is known about it at this moment in time. Guimaraes’ thigh issue hasn’t ruled him out of Brazil’s next fixture yet so there is hope he’ll be available for Fulham too.
If Callum Wilson and Alexander Isak are both fit, who leads the line for Newcastle?
MS: For me, Wilson starts as striker if he’s deemed fit enough - and Isak is moved to the left or the right. Howe’s already suggested that they can play together, and Isak is versatile enough to play on either wing.
DS: Both players have scored two goals in three matches for Newcastle this season, but at the moment a fully-fit Wilson slots into the side more effectively. You can see Isak is still getting used to his new surroundings and has often found himself isolated up front.
Who has been your standout Newcastle player so far this season?
MS: I think we’ve seen some strong performances across the team, but, before his injury, Allan Saint-Maximin was looking unplayable. We didn’t see the best of him under Howe last season, but the winger started the season strongly. He created a lot, and also scored a stunning goal.
DS: Nick Pope based on the level of consistency he has displayed in goal. As a new goalkeeper, it can be hard to make an impression, but by keeping things simple and pulling out some top saves, he has helped Newcastle get off to their best defensive start to the season since the 2011-12 campaign.
Will Elliot Anderson become more involved with the first team following his new contract?
MS: I think so. Howe said recently that he’s pushing for a start, and I don’t think it’ll be too long before we see him starting a Premier League game. In the meantime, he’s a welcome attacking option on the bench.
DS: Hopefully he will. When players like Jacob Murphy, Miguel Almiron, Ryan Fraser and Joe Willock are struggling to make an impact in games, Anderson seems an ideal player to bring into the side.