Possibly the biggest decision facing Newcastle United’s head coach concerns his goalkeeper for Saturday’s game against Arsenal. Martin Dubravka – who had foot surgery after Euro 2020 – is pushing for a recall after making his comeback for Slovakia this month.
And Howe has a decision to make on Karl Darlow, who was at fault for Brentford’s first goal in last last weekend’s 3-3 draw. Goalscorer Ivan Toney admitted after the game that he’d studied Darlow ahead of his return to St James’s Park.
“We checked out what the keeper’s best attributes are before the game, so just hit it low and hard, and you’ve got every chance,” said Toney.
Speaking on Match of the Day, former Newcastle No.9 Alan Shearer said: “Darlow there, it’s a basic error. He had a really poor game.”
Howe had touched on the availability of 32-year-old No.1 Dubravka, a vocal player on the pitch, before the Premier League fixture, the first since his appointment.
“Dubravka played (for Slovakia) in the week,” said Howe. “Is he 100% fit? We’ll see. I’ve got a tough call to make.”
Howe also suggested that he’d lean more on those players who hadn’t been on international duty for that game. He said: "The difficulty for the international lads is that they’ve been with us for a day, two days.”
Howe’s coaches have a full week with the whole squad ahead of the club’s visit to the Emirates Stadium – and that “tough call” on Dubravka has seemingly got a little easier.