NEWCASTLE: Eddie Howe has concerns about three key first-team players ahead of Newcastle United’s final day trip to Burnley.
The Magpies head to Turf Moor knowing a win could have a huge say in the Premier League relegation battle — but not in the way many predicted when Howe took over.
United looked set to be right in the midst of the fight to remain in the top flight, but a remarkable run since January, which has seen the Magpies climb from 19th to 12th, has turned around their fortunes.
Their hosts, however, still need points to guarantee they will be a Premier League side come next season.
While Howe has said he will pick his strongest team and show the fixture the respect it deserves, he could well be without three key players, one of whom is former Clarets frontman Chris Wood, signed for $31 million in January.
“We’re going to try him in training and see how he looks,” the manager said. “At the time, we didn’t think it was a serious injury so fingers crossed he gets through training today.”
Another player who is touch-and-go for the encounter is Fabian Schar.
The Switzerland international, who signed a two-year extension to his United deal earlier this month, was forced off, having been knocked unconscious in the 2-0 home win over Arsenal on Monday.
And head injury protocols mean the player might have to sit out Sunday’s match.
“Fabian we haven’t seen,” Howe said. “We’re following concussion protocols. I believe he is going to do something outside but we’ll follow the protocols closely. I think there will be a late decision on Fabian.”
A player who was visibly upset as the squad circled the St. James’ Park pitch to say thank you to fans after the Gunners win was Ryan Fraser.
It left many wondering why — and now Howe has explained why.
“Ryan Fraser might be out of the game,” he said. “He came on but had slight awareness in his hamstring, I don’t think it’s a re-injure but there is awareness in his hamstring again.”
Meanwhile, Callum Wilson looks set to end the campaign leading the United line, a place he was so sorely missed for a large chunk of the season.
And Howe admits it has been a relief to have his top scorer and talisman back available.
“An immense performance when you consider how long he’s been out and the type of injury he had,” he said of Wilson on Monday night.
“To deliver that first game back, I can’t say enough positive words about that. When you see behind the scenes and you see how he’s conducted himself and how he’s worked, it doesn’t surprise me because I’ve seen it many times before but then you’ve got to back it up with the performance and I thought he gave a very good display that really helped the team. Full credit to him.”