Eddie Howe has voiced his praises to his Newcastle United side despite a number of key absences in what was 'a very difficult week' for the team.

The Magpies drew 2-2 with Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux, with Howe’s men taking the lead twice before being pegged back. 

Callum Wilson scored in the 26th minute before Mario Lemina levelled the scoring for the Wanderers in the 36th minute.

Wilson scored from the spot to give NUFC the lead again in first half stoppage time after VAR ruled that Hwang Hee-Chan fouled Fabian Schar inside the penalty area.

Hwang equalised for Wolves a second time in the 71st minute to ensure the points were shared between the two sides. 

Howe said: “I’m very proud of the players, the effort [the players] gave physically to the game. Again, same conditions from Wednesday against [Borussia] Dortmund where it creates a different game.

“I thought it was a really good game, I thought we played well, I thought [Wolves] played well; it was a really good game between two good teams.

“We took the lead so it was frustrating not to get the three points, but I can’t praise the players enough.” 

Coming into the game, Howe’s men had lost key players such as Alexander Isak and Jacob Murphy to injury in their Champions League defeat to Dortmund last Wednesday, with the latter suffering a dislocated shoulder.

The Magpies were also without Elliot Anderson, who will miss the next eight weeks with a back injury and Harvey Barnes, who is out until the end of the year.

Marquee summer signing Sandro Tonali missed the trip to the Midlands after it was confirmed he would be banned for ten months from all football competitions.

The injuries meant Joe Willock was the only natural attacking option on the bench.

“I think it’s been a difficult week for us, a Champions League game which I think we lost harshly.

“The Sandro situation is a difficult one to take for the group because we lost an outstanding player for a long period of time, and the injuries we picked up against Dortmund made it a difficult week.

“We could have come [to Wolves] and made it very easy to feel sorry for ourselves but the players here don’t know that way, and they played with a lot of heart.”

The game was affected by a heavy downpour throughout the 90 minutes, making the ball fizz around nicely but ensuring anyone watching at home was glad they were not at the ground.

“I don’t think the conditions affected us negatively; I just think it is a different game, both teams have to deal with it but I think off the back of Wednesday where it was exactly the same, it is fatiguing weather for us.”

Newcastle named two goalkeepers and six fullbacks on the bench and only made one change in the game. Howe reflected on the options he had and the effect that had on his decision-making throughout.

“I think [the options on the bench] was the difficult part where we wanted to bring on fresh legs, the difficult part of making substitutions today was bringing players on in their best position.

“I am reluctant to bring players on and play them out of position unless I have to but it was also a difficult game to come into, the speed of that game was so quick, it was in the balance and I have got to be careful I do not make changes that unbalance us.

“I was very wary of that.”

Despite the injury setbacks, Callum Wilson came back into the starting XI to score his sixth and seventh league goal of the season, making him the joint-third top scorer of the season with an average of 1.5 goals per 90’.

Howe was full of praise for the Magpies number nine, saying: “His two finishes were excellent, especially the first, he probably could have had a hat-trick as well but he took his penalty well so it was another good afternoon for Callum.”

  • "I cannot be more proud of them"  

Injuries and absences leave Howe’s side as ‘walking wounded’ for a significant amount of time, with the side right in the middle of a congested fixture list, with the Magpies in unfamiliar territory due to extra Champions League games.

Newcastle have four games against Manchester United, Arsenal, Dortmund and Bournemouth in the next 14 days with three of those four games being away from home. 

“We have to come closer together and show the spirit we have since I have been here, it is never easy and this is a huge challenge for us this season and the players are responding brilliantly to that.

“I cannot be more proud of them in these difficult circumstances with the injuries we have got at the minute, a lot of them are not short term which means you have not got the positive news on the horizon.

“We have to go again with the same group, but I think we are good enough to do it,” he said.

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