NEWCASTLE: Eddie Howe has said Newcastle United are keen to re-sign in-form defender Fabian Schar, with the Switzerland international in the final few months of his Magpies deal.
As part of Schar’s contract, a one-year extension was triggered last summer, which came as a surprise to many as it was widely expected the center-half would walk out after falling out of favor with previous manager Steve Bruce.
However, under Eddie Howe, Schar has been restored to the side and is shining. The Swiss has been one of Newcastle’s star performers, alongside new central defensive partner Dan Burn, in a side that has kept three clean sheets in a seven-game unbeaten run in the Premier League.
And it sounds like Howe is keen to reward that run with a new deal for the player, who was a Rafa Benitez bargain buy from Deportivo de La Coruna in the summer of 2018.
“Fabian is someone, as I’ve said before, I’ve always admired,” said Howe.
“He is a really good footballing center-back. The most important thing for me is that he has defended very well. He is another one that is trained really well.
“We’re aware of his contract situation and we’ll be sitting down and discussing things with his agent very shortly.”
Schar is not the only player at Newcastle whose deal is well into its final year.
Sean Longstaff, once a $46 million target for Manchester United, will become a free agent at the end of the season.
Although Longstaff has been unable to force his way into the side for a few weeks, Howe rates the midfielder highly.
The head coach, whose side take on Brighton & Hove Albion at St James’ Park tomorrow, said: “I love Sean, and I haven’t probably displayed that by my team selection, but that’s only because it’s a really strong area of the team. Bruno’s not playing as well.
“I really do rate Sean highly and I’m desperate for him to get an opportunity and show everyone on a consistent basis what he can do, because I think he’s a top player,” Howe said. “I’d love him to stay at the football club — there is no part of me that wants to see him leave.”
“I believe he has a long-term future here, but that’s Sean’s decision as well,” he said.
“From my side, there is absolutely every part of me that wants him to stay.”
Meanwhile, like last week, Howe says he will make a late call on whether Allan Saint-Maximin will be involved against the Seagulls.
The Frenchman missed the last two games against West Ham United and Brentford with a calf problem.
And while the player is back in the UK, following a trip to his homeland for treatment on the injury, he is yet to train in full contact with his teammates.
Howe said: “Maxi hasn’t trained yet with us, but hopefully he does today (Friday).
“We’ll make a decision based on how he looks and how his injury status is after that training session.”
Elsewhere on the injury front, Howe has provided an update on the fitness of key first-team trio Callum Wilson, Kieran Trippier and Matt Ritchie.
“Matty is doing really well,” Howe said. “He’s had a period where he has been away and come back. We hope he will train next week.
“I think once he trains he’ll be up to speed quite quickly, because he’s been able to maintain his fitness,” he added. “Kieran is doing well — he’s had the stitches out in his foot so he’s making good progress. We’re happy.
“Callum is as we were, really. He’s working toward returning and working hard on certain aspects. He’s not running yet and we haven’t seen him outside yet, but with the last update I gave you, he’s still on track from then.”