NEWCASTLE: Eddie Howe has refused to be drawn on whether Newcastle United injuries will force his hand in the January transfer window.
The Magpies lost key men Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin to what appeared to be calf and knee problems during the 1-1 home draw with Manchester United at St. James’ Park on Monday.
Howe has revealed that the key duo are unlikely to be available for either of the Magpies’ Premier League fixtures against Everton and Southampton on Thursday and Sunday, respectively.
Wilson is facing up to potentially “months” out, while Saint-Maximin’s recovery may take “weeks,” according to head coach Howe.
With the January transfer window just days away, and numbers in the forward areas now light, attention turns to how Newcastle can strengthen in their first window since being taken over by majority shareholders the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia.
Howe wants to take stock and is refusing to commit to any knee-jerk transfer calls.
“I think I need to digest what has happened first,” the manager said when asked whether he will look to replace the goals of Wilson and Saint-Maximin in the transfer market. “It (the injuries) is too early to shape my thought process.”
He added: “We need to see the extent of Callum Wilson’s injury. And then I think we will take the appropriate action from there.”
While the news on Saint-Maximin and Wilson was far from positive for Howe, the performance of makeshift midfielder Joelinton certainly was.
The Brazilian put in another man-of-the-match display in the center of the park, dominating countryman Fred and fellow Man United midfielder Scott McTominay.
“I think, first and foremost, he has given me everything. He has bought into everything we have tried to do. He worked incredibly hard for his team and his teammates. He has been outstanding.”
Howe added: “Defensively, the job he was asked to do he delivered. An outstanding performance based on a high level of understanding when you consider he has performed the majority of his career in a different position. His technical quality, the ability to receive the ball and find his way out of very tight positions has been very, very good.”
The head coach said that Joelinton “is playing with real confidence, and I hope that continues and he can take his performances on a level.”
A positive manager by nature, Howe agreed that Monday night’s performance was his team’s best since he took the top job on Tyneside.
And now he believes his side have set the standard on which to build.
“We need to build on what we have seen in this game,” he said. “There were large elements of something similar in the Liverpool and Manchester City games but the results weren’t as good, and it gets lost.
“Obviously we conceded some very bad goals in those games. So I think we’ve had some pretty consistent performances in the last three — but today was the best in terms of attacking performance and defensive delivery.
“That was the best we’ve seen since I’ve come here but hopefully we’ve got a lot more to go and we know the games only get harder, they don’t get easier. It’s a boost from what I have seen from the players.”
That building may well have to wait, though, with the Magpies short on numbers heading to Goodison Park on Thursday.
Injuries and a coronavirus outbreak in the United camp have cast the club’s trip to take on Rafa Benitez and Everton this week into doubt.
When asked whether the game is likely to go ahead, Howe said: “I don’t know, we will try to get the game on.
“We will see where we are with the injured players and with COVID-19 in the camp. From there it is a simple process of just counting the players.”