Newcastle United Q&A: Amanda Staveley's St James's Park plan realised and fresh injury doubts ahead of Tottenham Hotspur
Here, our Shields Gazette writers Miles Starforth and Dominic Scurr discuss the latest talking points surrounding Newcastle…
What insight can you give into Newcastle's trip to Dubai?
MS: “It’s hard to give too much of an insight, as the media weren’t invited, and the only updates have been through the club’s website and social media channels. That said, what we have learnt has been positive. Kieran Trippier and Callum Wilson are making progress in their comebacks, and the trip has given the players time for rest and recuperation, as well as a few days uninterrupted work on the training pitches in Dubai.”
DS: “It sounds like it has been a positive trip for Eddie Howe and his squad. We’ve seen Trippier and Wilson back in light training in the gym and the team have continued to bond well while away. Newcastle arrived in Dubai last Friday and had a couple of days rest before training at the state-of-the-art Nad Al Sheba Sports Complex in the mornings before the weather became too hot – temperatures in excess of 30 degrees Celsius have been reported in Dubai this week. The Magpies also took part in three 20-minute practice matches against Gulf United’s academy side on Thursday. Allan Saint-Maximin and Dwight Gayle both scored twice during the games and Joelinton also found the net. The squad then returned to Tyneside on Thursday as they now prepare for next Sunday’s return to Premier League action at Tottenham Hotspur.”
What are your thoughts on the Newcastle United Women's match being arranged at St James's Park in May?
MS: “It’s about time. It’s hard to believe that this will be the first time that Newcastle United Women will play at the stadium. Amanda Staveley is keen to bring the team to the “heart” of the club, and this is a sign of things to come. It’s great to see the team doing so well, and, hopefully, they’ll have something to celebrate at the end of the season.”
DS: “The Women’s team has felt disconnected from the club for too long. Fortunately Amanda Staveley plans to correct that and this match at St James’s Park is an important and necessary step in bringing the men’s and women’s sides closer together as one unit. It could also be a very well timed match with Newcastle going for the league title and promotion to the third tier of women’s football in England. With tickets to matches at St James’s Park so hard to come by these days, £3 on the turnstile entry on a Sunday afternoon in May seems like an ideal opportunity for many to get along to a match.”
What is the latest on the injury front?
MS: “There’s a good chance that Trippier and Wilson will be available at some point next month, which would be great news. Trippier, especially, is making good progress from foot surgery. Also, the Dubai trip has given Allan Saint-Maximin a chance to catch up with his fitness following his recent lay-off, and that should put him in contention to start when the club resumes its Premier League campaign.”
DS: “Along with Trippier and Wilson there has been a couple of injury concerns for Newcastle’s players on international duty with Fabian Schar withdrawing from the Switzerland squad this week following an ongoing adductor issue in his groin area. Emil Krafth was also left out of the Sweden squad that beat Czech Republic 1-0 on Thursday. There is no confirmed news on his injury status just yet but it is certainly unusual to see him left out entirely for such an important World Cup qualifier.”
Which players could be back involved for the trip to Tottenham Hotspur next week?
MS: “We’ll have to see how Schar is ahead of the game, as he was forced to withdraw from the Switzerland squad due to an adductor problem.”
DS: “Allan Saint-Maximin has had a full week of training under his belt in Dubai and scored twice in the practice games so he is likely to be back in contention. The Frenchman hasn’t started a Premier League match for Newcastle since Aston Villa on February 13 and had trained fully just twice in four weeks before jetting off to Dubai. Jonjo Shelvey will also be back in contention having missed the last two Premier League matches due to illness. Schar and Krafth will be assessed on their return.”
How many more points do you think Newcastle need to survive?
MS: “I doubt Newcastle will need 40 points to survive this season, as 18th-placed Watford only have 22 points, and a win or two might just do it. Howe, obviously, will be keen to push past the 40-point mark - and finish as high as possible.”
DS: “I think four more points would do it. A 35 point total should be enough to stay in the Premier League this season considering Watford's points total with nine games remaining. Of course, teams can go on unforeseen runs of positive form towards the back end of the season, but with Newcastle currently sitting 14th, it would take a lot of results to go against them in order to be relegated on 35 points. A win and a draw should be enough but hopefully we see them pick up more points than that!”