NEWCASTLE: Eddie Howe has revealed the injury to midfielder Jonjo Shelvey could shape his Newcastle United transfer plans in the final weeks of the summer window.
Newcastle had been looking to add only two more players to their ranks with a wide forward and a young striker on their radar.
However, with creator Shelvey out for the next 12 weeks due to a hamstring surgery, Howe admits that he may have to consider building strength in that department.
“I wouldn’t say it was our main focus but it’s something in the back of our minds, if we need to do something then we have the capability of doing something in that position. But we have other positions that are more of a priority currently,” Howe said.
“I feel we have enough to cover his absence currently, but you know football, it can change very quickly. Losing Jonjo is a big blow, he’s been a huge player for us the last few seasons. He brings unique qualities in that midfield role.
“Bruno played in that position on Saturday and did very well and we do have other players — Sean’s played the position during pre-season and again done very well. He used the ball excellently. We have a couple of options but we’re going to miss Jonjo.”
Shelvey, a mainstay in the Newcastle starting line-up last season, limped out of the Magpies’ 3-2 friendly loss to Benfica last month and has since gone under the knife to rectify his injury.
Howe does intend to name the former Liverpool and England man in his 25-man Premier League squad for the first half the season, despite the fact he may only be able to play a handful of matches.
“It was quite a complex one,” said Howe of the 30-year-old’s injury.
“We had a number of scans and opinions because we wanted to make the right call. It wasn’t a clear or simple injury.
“He’s had an operation and is expected to be out around 12 weeks. He was very disappointed obviously, he worked very hard in pre-season and looked in really good physical shape.
“It was a real shame for him and for us but he’s on the road to recovery now and is in a much better place after the operation and before mentally. We’re looking forward to getting him back.”
While some fans are starting to get anxious about Newcastle’s lack of transfer action, Howe is not.
Newcastle have not signed any senior players since July 1 when Sven Botman was brought in from Lille for a fee of $36 million.
“I’m never relaxed. I’d love to bring somebody in or players in we feel can benefit the group and add to what we have. But, I’m not anxious about that currently,” said the Newcastle head coach.
“The squad is in a very good place, very confident. There’s a good feel about the group, good dynamic internally. We still have time.”
Asked if anything is imminent on the transfer front, with talk of Brazilian Lucas Paqueta again surfacing in recent days, Howe said: “I’m sorry to keep giving you the same answers, I want to give you a different response but I can’t. We’re no closer currently but hopefully in the next week or so, it might be different.”
For Newcastle to sign players, they would have to trim some senior players from their ranks.
The likes of Matt Ritchie, Karl Darlow, Matty Longstaff and Jamal Lewis could all be shown the door to free up space in United’s 25.
On outgoings, Howe said: “I’d say, the squad is and has been very consistent during training. Our numbers have been 21 or 22, which is where we want to be really, depending on knocks and injuries. I certainly wouldn’t want to be any weaker than that. I’d be reluctant to let anyone go currently without bringing someone in.
“With the younger guys that don’t currently train with us, we would be open for anybody to go if the loan was right for them but there is a couple of players I’d probably want to hold back who I feel could be part of our season next year.
“I do encourage the loan market — we see what it did for Elliot Anderson last year. It’s something I do passionately believe in, getting that experience under their belts will do them the world of good.”