Eddie Howe backs 'game-changing' Newcastle United player for unexpected opportunity

Newcastle United’s Kieran Trippier has been backed to star for England at the World Cup – if he gets a starting place.

The knee injury suffered by Chelsea’s Reece James this week is reportedly worse than initially feared – and the right-back could miss next month’s tournament in Qatar.

Manchester City’s Kyle Walker is also a doubt for the World Cup, having recently undergone groin injury, while Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold, behind Trippier in the pecking order, has an ankle injury.

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Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe.Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe.
Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe.

And Trippier, Howe’s first signing at United, is England’s only fit and available right-back with the tournament just over a month away.

Trippier, signed from Atletico Madrid in January, underlined his class with a superb deep cross for Newcastle’s first goal, scored by Bruno Guimaraes, in last weekend’s 5-1 win over Brentford at St James’s Park.

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Asked about the prospect of Trippier starting for England at the World Cup, Howe said: "Just look at his performances this year, he’s been incredible.

"Even last year, in the brief time he played, he made a massive impact, both on the pitch and off it, in terms of his leadership. He’s continued to do the same, and we’re seeing more of him, because he’s been fitter for longer.

Newcastle United defender Kieran Trippier.Newcastle United defender Kieran Trippier.
Newcastle United defender Kieran Trippier.

"Just look at the first goal we scored against Brentford, which is always a game-changer. It was his cross from the short corner, and it can really be underestimated how difficult that skill is, to put it exactly where Bruno needed it to be to score.

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"It was an incredible highlight of his technical quality. But also his defending is of a very good level – and I can’t speak highly enough of him.”

Howe – who previously managed Trippier at Burnley – has a good relationship with the 32-year-old, who was taken off with “fatigue” last weekend.

"England’s something we have discussed, but not necessarily what’s happening in terms of the right-back situation at the moment,” said Howe, speaking ahead of Sunday's game against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

"I just want him to concentrate on his football, and not overthink things, that can be dangerous.

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"It’s just a case of getting him in a good place to play at his best level.”