Eddie Howe has a big injury concern at Newcastle United following third successive win

Newcastle United moved four points clear of the relegation zone thanks to a third successive victory – but the win came at a cost.

A free-kick from stand-in skipper Kieran Trippier, his second in as many games, gave Eddie Howe’s side a hard-fought 1-0 win over Aston Villa this afternoon.

However, Howe lost Trippier and Javier Manquillo to injuries either side of the break.

And the loss of Trippier, so important to United since his move from Atletico Madrid last month, is particularly worrying. The 31-year-old had passed a late fitness test before the game, having suffered a calf injury in Tuesday night’s 3-1 win over Everton.

Newcastle weren't at their best against mid-table Villa, but they deserved their third successive Premier League victory, a feat last achieved by the club in November 2018 when Rafa Benitez was manager.

Howe had made two changes. Dan Burn made his debut in place of the unwell Jamaal Lascelles, while Manquillo replaced loanee Matt Targett, not eligible to play against his parent club, in the starting XI.

Trippier, labelled a “future” United captain by former Newcastle skipper Alan Shearer last month, took the captain’s armband in the absence of Lascelles.

After a scrappy first 30 minutes, Newcastle got their breakthrough. Referee Craig Pawson pointed to the spot after Callum Chambers brought down Joe Willock as he burst into the box. After a VAR check, it was downgraded to a free-kick on the edge of the box.

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Kieran Trippier celebrates his goal.

Trippier stepped up and put his free-kick through a gap in the wall which had opened up when Fabian Schar and Chris Wood split.

January signing Wood, yet to score his first United goal, had been due to take the penalty.

Newcastle – who lost Manquillo to an injury in added time – took their advantage into the break. Burn, signed from Brighton and Hove Albion, won everything at the back in his first 45 minutes playing for his boyhood club.

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Villa came back at United after the break, and the team lost Trippier to an injury early in the second half. The visitors had an Olly Watkins goal disallowed for offside during an uncomfortable period.

Kieran Trippier scores with a free-kick.

Martin Dubravka needed treatment midway through the half, but the goalkeeper was able to play on.

There were chants of “Bruno, Bruno” when Bruno Guimaraes warmed up, but Howe, maybe with Dubravka in mind, didn’t make a third change until added time. Guimaraes, signed from Olympique Lyonnais on transfer deadline day, made it on to the pitch in added time.

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And Howe’s side saw out a nervy final few minutes to claim the fourth win of his tenure.

Newcastle remain in 17th place, but Everton, Leeds United Brentford above them are now in reach. Next up are fourth-placed West Ham United at the London Stadium on February 19.

The West Ham game, crucially, is followed by an away fixture against out-of-form Brentford.

And Howe can only hope that Trippier is available for both fixtures.

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NEWCASTLE UNITED: Dubravka, Trippier, Schar, Burn, Manquillo (Dummett, 45), Willock (Guimaraes, 90), Shelvey, Joelinton, Fraser, Wood, Saint-Maximin. Subs: Darlow, Krafth, Murphy, Almiron, Gayle, Longstaff, De Bolle.

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Your support is much appreciated. Richard Mennear, Football Clubs Editor