Newcastle manager Eddie Howe says it is “too early” to know the extent of the hamstring injury that forced midfielder Joe Willock off in the 2-0 win over Manchester United on Sunday.
What’s the latest on Joe Willock’s injury?
The Magpies hosted the Red Devils on Sunday afternoon where they collected all three points through goals from Willock and Callum Wilson, securing a 2-0 win against a top-four rival that represented a big step towards Champions League qualification for next season.
Willock put in an all-action performance in midfield for Newcastle, scoring the key first goal to break the deadlock and registering an excellent WhoScored rating of 7.8.
However, the 23-year-old hobbled off in the late stages in the 84th minute holding his hamstring and is still being monitored by club medical staff.
Newcastle boss Howe has now offered an update on Willock’s fitness, saying he does not yet know if he will be available for Wednesday night’s clash with West Ham United.
“I haven’t seen him so I don’t know,” said Howe in his press conference early on Tuesday morning (via The Northern Echo).
“It’s too early [to know]. I think we’re reasonably OK. I think there are a few tired bodies. It was a really big physical effort in the game but hopefully nothing too much.”
How big a blow would Newcastle losing Willock be?
Willock has had a solid season on Tyneside but has stepped up impressively recently, recording a goal and two assists and averaging a fantastic WhoScored rating of 7.94 over his last three games.
As per FBref, the £80k-per-week man ranks among the top 5% of midfielders in Europe’s top five leagues for progressive carries, the top 5% for progressive passes received and the top 1% for touches in the attacking box per 90.
Journalist Simon Collings has lauded the Waltham Forest-born star’s “limitless” potential when relaying comments from his former Arsenal boss Unai Emery, while fellow reporter Graeme Bailey has also hailed his “stunning” progress since making the switch to the northeast from north London.
Willock is a box-to-box midfielder who can cover a lot of ground and is always willing to run forward and support the attack, providing energy and dynamism and being a vital player both defensively and offensively for Newcastle.
It is an area where the Magpies are not blessed with strength in depth, with a new midfielder reportedly a priority for PIF and director of football Dan Ashworth in the summer.
Losing Willock for even one game over such a key period of the season, with Champions League qualification on the line, would be a huge blow for Howe and Geordies everywhere will be hoping he recovers in time to face the Hammers.