Newcastle United are seeking a seventh consecutive Premier League victory at St James’ Park in 2022, but face their toughest challenge yet when they host Jurgen Klopp’s high-flying Liverpool in the Saturday lunchtime kick-off.
An update on injuries
Howe confirmed in his pre-match press conference that while he has no fresh injury concerns, Kieran Trippier and Callum Wilson are still unavailable for selection with foot and calf problems respectively, but are “getting closer” to being involved before the end of the season.
“We definitely won’t rush them back,” said Howe. “We won’t put them at risk but if they’re fit, we’ll use them like any other player. I think that’s important. They’ve had targets and goals to hit and when you’re injured it’s important you have those things.
“Kieran we’ve seen on the grass, and he’s trained with us for one session. Callum isn’t quite there yet but he’s edging closer and is doing a lot of work with the sports science team.”
He said: “Ryan has been out on the grass, but he’s not trained. We’re taking it careful with him as hamstring injuries are notoriously difficult. Will he play again this season? I’m not sure at this moment in time but it’s not a serious injury.”
Newcastle United Women set to make history
It’s a huge weekend on Tyneside as after The Magpies host Liverpool on Saturday, the following day history will be made as The Lady Magpies are in action against Alnwick Town Ladies in a 2pm kick-off in their first ever match at St James’ Park.
In preparation for the big day, Newcastle United Women trained at the men’s first team training centre on Tuesday evening as Becky Langley’s side are still in contention to win the FA Women’s National League Division One North title.
Speaking about Sunday’s historic fixture for The Lady Magpies, Howe said: “It’s a brilliant moment for them. I’d like to wish Becky and her team luck. I’m going to try to get to the game myself as I think it’s important, we all support every team Newcastle produce. It’s a historic moment and I wish them luck.”
Delight at Fabian Schar’s new deal
Fabian Schar, who joined Newcastle in 2018 from Deportivo de La Coruna, has just signed a new two-year deal with the club and Howe was “delighted” to see the Switzerland international commit his future with the Toon Army.
“I really like him as a player and he’s performed very well,” said Howe. “Everyone knows how he’s technically a very good footballer, but he’s proved he can defend very effectively within the team structure. I’m delighted with him.
“He’s been the ultimate professional off the pitch as well. He’s been a big part of the leadership within the team as well, so I think he’s a role model for the younger players to look at in terms of how to conduct yourself, so I’m delighted for him.”
The 30-year-old will be eager to make his 99th appearance for the black-and-whites against Klopp’s title-chasing Reds.
On facing in-form Liverpool
Newcastle’s formidable form in this calendar year has seen them record six successive top-flight home victories for the first time in 18 years and they have lost just one of their last 12 Premier League matches in the North East which has seen a meteoric rise up the table into ninth - 14 points above the relegation zone.
They face a daunting prospect however in continuing their remarkable run as The Reds are unbeaten in all 10 of their away fixtures this year.
Howe is aware of the obstacle that lies ahead on Saturday as he looks to inflict Liverpool with their first defeat on the road since 28 December.
He said: “We know that nothing, but our best tomorrow will be good enough. We have to be perfect defensively, but we still have to give them a threat the other way. I think we have the players to do that, but we need them at their very best levels.”
On the remainder of the season
While Newcastle has all but guaranteed top-flight football for next season, there’s no need to take their foot off the gas just yet as they can still have a big say in the title race, the top four and the relegation battle as The Magpies’ final four games of the campaign are against sides in each scenario.
After the visit of Liverpool, Newcastle travel to Manchester City, who currently lie just one point ahead of Klopp’s side at the top-of-the-table, before they welcome fourth-place Arsenal in their final home game of the season, followed by a trip to relegation-threatened Burnley on what could be a pivotal final day for The Clarets, but Howe is hoping that his players can maintain their current levels and finish the season on a high.
“We had a good result last week (at Norwich City) and a good performance but we’ve trained well off the back of that. We know that with the games we have coming up there can be no dropping of our standards because this league can be ruthless at times.”