Newcastle United have been given a huge injury boost ahead of their clash with Manchester United on Sunday, with four key players returning to training today.
The Lowdown: Doubts ahead of key clash
Newcastle face Manchester United on Sunday in what is a pivotal game in their bid to secure a top-four spot and qualify for the Champions League.
There were worries the Magpies could be without a host of integral players as goalkeeper Nick Pope pulled out of the England squad over the international break with injury and centre-back Sven Botman returned to the club with illness after receiving his maiden call-up to the senior Netherlands squad.
Additionally, maverick winger Allan Saint-Maximin was withdrawn at half-time in Newcastle’s last game against Nottingham Forest with a hamstring injury and striker Callum Wilson missed several sessions over the international break.
The Latest: Quartet return to training
Despite these concerns, manager Eddie Howe’s has been given a huge boost as all four players have returned to training and are expected to be involved in the game on Sunday, according to the Daily Mail.
It isn’t all positive news for Newcastle on the injury front, however, with winger Anthony Gordon out with an ankle issue and Miguel Almiron sidelined with a thigh problem.
Newcastle would go above United and into third in the Premier League if they were to secure three points at St James’ Park, as well as above managerless Tottenham who play Everton on Monday.
The Verdict: Great news for the Geordies
Pope being given the green light to play is vital for Eddie Howe’s men, with the 30-year-old shot-stopper having kept the joint most clean sheets in the Premier League this season, as well as the third best save percentage.
Botman has enjoyed a phenomenal first season in England, being hailed as a “special player” by Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp, and his physicality and leadership will be imperative against the likes of in-form Marcus Rashford, Antony and Jadon Sancho at the weekend.
Wilson’s importance to the Magpies is clear as the club’s second-highest scorer and top-scoring striker this season, whilst Saint-Maximin provides a spark of creativity and attacking thrust despite struggling with a number of injuries this season which have limited his playing time.
The availability of these key names provides a massive boost to Howe’s squad and their chances of getting a positive result against a top Premier League side.
The attacking threat of Saint-Maximin and Wilson, combined with Botman’s defensive capabilities and Pope’s shot-stopping, ensure Newcastle are far better equipped to face a rejuvenated United side under Eric ten Hag.