Eddie Howe's verdict on 'high-class' Newcastle United signing
Kieran Trippier joined a club fighting to stay in the Premier League.
Eleven months later, Trippier – who will this week head to Qatar for the World Cup with England – is leading a team which challenging for a Champions League place – and that’s no coincidence.
Newcastle United are third in the Premier League ahead of the World Cup following Saturday’s 1-0 win over Chelsea at St James’s Park.
Trippier, signed in January from Atletico Madrid, has helped the team keep seven clean sheets this season – the club has the joint-best defensive record in the league – and he has also set up three goals.
And Eddie Howe coach – who had previously coached Trippier at Burnley – reflected on the right-back’s contribution on Tyneside after the club’s fifth successive top-flight win.
Asked about Trippier’s impact at the club, United’s head coach said: “Difficult to put into words, to be honest.
"I think last season, his impact was huge, and we lost him to injury (in February), which was a devastating blow at the time.
"But he played his part behind the scenes, he really did, helped the players, came to all the games. Really supported us in our battle staying in the league. No-one was more pleased than him that we were able to do that.
"This season, I just think he’s been incredible for us on the pitch. He’s made a brilliant contribution to all our phases, whether that’s attacking or defending. And his leadership skills have been high class. I couldn’t be happier with Kieran.”
Trippier, last week named in Gareth Southgate’s 26-man England squad, is set to start England’s first game with Reece James missing the tournament through injury.
“To be in the squad is always a big achievement, especially at a World Cup,” said 32-year-old Trippier.
“I’ve been lucky enough to experience it before so, yeah, I want a taste of it again. I’m looking forward to it, I’m looking forward to meeting up with the squad, like I do every camp.
“We want to go into every tournament to win. That’s a given. We know we’re up against fantastic nations, but we feel we’ve got a very, very good squad to go and win the tournament. That’s got to be the mindset – a winning mindset.”