Eddie Howe 'stands by' key Newcastle United decision after 'painful' FA Cup defeat

Eddie Howe’s explained his team selection after Newcastle United suffered a “painful” FA Cup defeat.

The club was beaten 2-1 by Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough tonight. Newcastle created enough chances to win the game, but two goals from Josh Windass saw them knocked out of the competition at the third-round stage by a League One club for the second season running.

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Howe had made eight changes for the tie, which comes ahead of Tuesday night’s Carabao Cup quarter-final against Leicester City and a Premier League home game against Fulham a week tomorrow.

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“The Leicester game was on the horizon for us, and we picked a team with that game in mind, and another Premier League game at the weekend,” said United’s head coach, who was without Allan Saint-Maximin through illness.

“If that game wasn’t there, the team selection would have possibly been different today. We’re trying to juggle everything, and make sure we were strong enough to win, and I thought were, but obviously that didn’t materialise."

Howe insisted that he stood by his decision to make so many changes given the fixtures his team face next week.

“We have a very small squad, and have to protect that squad for games ahead,” said Howe. “We felt we were strong enough to win the game today, and I stick by that based on the first-half performance where we had chances to score. We just weren’t clinical in front of goal.”

Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe.Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe.
Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe.
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Windass put the club 2-0 up with two second-half goals, but substitute Bruno Guimaraes gave Newcastle hope with a 69th-minute goal.

Reflecting on the game, Howe said: “Bitterly disappointed to go out, I thought the performance was OK. We created enough chances to win the tie, and their goalkeeper made a number of great saves, but we weren’t clinical enough when those presentable opportunities were there.

“We have to accept the defeat, and Sheffield Wednesday battled for everything, as we did, but it wasn’t to be.”

The defeat was the club’s first in any competition since late August.

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“We haven’t experienced defeat a lot this season, and it’s very painful,” said Howe. “You don’t want to lose any game.

"We were determined to do well in this competition, but it wasn’t to be, and there’s always things to learn.”