Newcastle United contract latest and Eddie Howe's selection dilemmas ahead of Brighton match

Following Eddie Howe’s first Newcastle United press conference in person, we answer some key questions surrounding the club at the moment

Here, our Shields Gazette writers Miles Starforth and Dominic Scurr reflect on a positive couple of weeks for The Magpies and look ahead to Saturday’s match at home to Brighton looking to make it eight games unbeaten…

How was Eddie Howe's press conference on Friday morning?

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

MS: “It was significant as it was the first in-person press conference held by the club in almost two years. Howe reiterated how important it was for his players to maintain the level of their recent performances given that the club remains just four points above the relegation zone.”

St James's Park, Newcastle (Photo by LINDSEY PARNABY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Other than Trippier and Wilson, what are the injury concerns heading into Saturday's match?

MS: “The only concern is Allan Saint-Maximin, who trained for the first time today after recovering from the calf problem which has kept him out for the past two weeks. Otherwise, Howe didn’t report any new injuries. Matt Ritchie (knee) is pencilled in to return to training next week.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
Read More
Amanda Staveley reveals PIF's powerful message about Newcastle United's ambition...

Will Emil Krafth and Jacob Murphy keep their place in the side against Brighton?

MS: “Even if Saint-Maximin does prove his fitness, he surely won’t be fit enough to start, and, in any case, Howe is reluctant to change a winning team, so I’d expect Murphy to start As for Krafth, he’s under a little bit more pressure from Javier Manquillo, who was on the bench last weekend after recovering from injury.”

DS: “Howe may be reluctant to change a winning side but if Javier Manquillo is fully fit and available, I’d have him in the side over Krafth. As for Murphy, a fit Saint-Maximin would almost always get into the side ahead of him but the Frenchman has barely trained over the past fortnight so it’s hard to imagine him coming straight into the side. I’d expect Murphy to keep his place but wouldn’t rule out a substitute appearance from Saint-Maximin providing he is passed fit enough to be involved.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

What have you made of Newcastle's seven game unbeaten run in the Premier League?

MS: “It’s been a team effort, and what’s been most impressive is that Newcastle have been able to win games without Callum Wilson, Kieran Trippier and Allan Saint-Maximin. Everyone knows their jobs, and the whole has been greater than the sum of the parts. That bodes well for the future.”

DS: “It’s not just the fact they are picking up results, it is how comfortable they look in games, the fact Martin Dubravka is rarely being called into action and most importantly just how stark a contrast it is to what we were seeing in the recent past. The turnaround has been simply astounding and Eddie Howe and his players deserve full credit for that. The unbeaten run has provided Newcastle with a bit of breathing room, momentum and crucially, confidence going into the business end of the season. But with a tough run of games coming up and only a four point gap above the top three, it’s important they keep up the good form or risk another scare before the end of the season.”

Eddie Howe and Ryan Fraser have been nominated for player and manager of the month for February - should they win?

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

MS: “For me, Howe should win the manager of the month award given his team’s results last month. The turnaround has been remarkable, as has the turnaround in Fraser’s United career following Howe’s arrival. He’s a strong candidate too given his recent form.”

DS: “Howe is in with a good chance of being named manager of the month. Not only did Newcastle pick up 10 points from 12 in February, but they effectively turned their season around in the process by almost doubling their points tally. Ralph Hasenhuttl at Southampton is also a good shout – he has the same record as Howe in February but has arguably had tougher fixtures against the likes of Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur. Jurgen Klopp has the best record of any manager in February with four wins out of four for Liverpool as well as a Carabao Cup win so it’s hard to rule him out either. As for Fraser, I think several Newcastle players including Joe Willock, Joelinton and Fabian Schar could have all been nominated for player of the month. I think Fraser faces stiff competition in the form of Che Adams, Joel Matip and Harry Kane to name a few.”

What is the latest on the contract front with certain players' deals set to expire?

MS: “Howe says talks will start “very shortly” with Fabian Schar, whose deal expires this summer. Howe also reiterated his keenness to see Sean Longstaff sign a new deal. A new contract has been on the agenda for the midfielder for almost three years now, and it’s hard to believe that this situation hasn’t been resolved up to now.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

What are your thoughts going into Saturday's match against Brighton?

MS: “It’s hard to be anything other than optimistic, even taking into account Newcastle’s poor Premier League record against Brighton. United have been defending very well in recent weeks, and they’re also creating chances. The balance of the team has been good.”

DS: “Usually, I’d be feeling very pessimistic going into a game like this. Newcastle have never beaten Brighton in the Premier League or even scored a goal against them at St James’s Park in that time. But Brighton have never faced a Newcastle side managed by Eddie Howe and recent performances have certainly helped bring the optimism back to Tyneside. I’m looking forward to the game as it’s a different challenge for Newcastle and it will be interesting to see how they manage against a very good footballing side in Brighton. Newcastle’s positive run of form will have to end eventually, you just hope they can keep the momentum building – it won’t be easy though.”

A message from the Football Clubs Editor

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Our aim is to provide you with the best, most up-to-date and most informative Newcastle United coverage 365 days a year.

This depth of coverage costs, so to help us maintain the high-quality reporting that you are used to, please consider taking out a subscription; sign up here.

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