NEWCASTLE: Newcastle United star man Bruno Guimaraes could use some love from Geordie fans as he returns to club duty following his disappointment with Brazil at the World Cup, according to head coach Eddie Howe.
The midfielder was rarely used in Qatar, much to the surprise of many onlookers, not least the Newcastle United faithful who have been blown away by his Premier League performances since he arrived at the club in January.
Amid some criticism of Brazil’s performance at the tournament from the Brazilian media and fans on social media, Howe thinks the time is just right time for Guimaraes to return to St James’ Park and begin to put the international disappointment behind him.
“I would say every player needs some Newcastle love, to feel the positive force of the crowd behind them,” said Howe ahead of the return to competitive action in the Carabao Cup against Bournemouth on Tuesday.
“Bruno is no different and if he can feel that positivity and love for him, I would encourage that. To have that positivity behind you, it makes a huge difference.
“Bruno is fine physically. He was obviously disappointed not to reach the latter stages (of the World Cup) with his country. I think there is an element of disappointment they couldn’t go further as I think their dream was to win.”
Howe added: “It’s important that whatever happened at the World Cup, they now put that behind them and use whatever positive things they can from the competition.”
United return to domestic competition as one of English football’s form sides. They have lost just once since the summer, a late and unfortunate 2-1 defeat by Liverpool at Anfield in late August. They claimed their place in the Carabao Cup fourth round thanks to a penalty-shootout win over Crystal Palace in the last 32, in which Nick Pope became a United star.
But will Pope and the Magpies’ other internationalists be available and fit for selection after their World Cup adventures?
“We’ll wait and see,” said Howe. “I spoke with all the international lads when they came back. Kieran (Trippier) and Nick were very keen to play in the game (against Spanish side Rayo Vallecano last Saturday).
“Those conversations are important because those boys have had not just a physical load from being at the World Cup but the mental side of it can’t be underestimated. I’ll continue those conversations with the other lads and will see where we are.”
One player who is a doubt for Tuesday is Allan Saint-Maximin, even though the Frenchman completed a full 90 minutes for United during the friendly at the weekend.
“I think there is a slight injury; we’ll see how he comes on,” said Howe. “Obviously, after a game things can be sore but they can settle quickly, so hopefully that’s the case.”
Another game day is also set to pass without Alexander Isak being available for selection. Despite scoring two goals in his first three games after becoming the club’s record signing in the summer, he has endured a frustrating spell on Tyneside, after suffering a calf injury while on international duty with Sweden and then a setback that has kept him out of the team since October. The thinking around the club is to make sure he is fully recovered before he returns this time.
“Not much has changed with Alex,” said Howe. “We’re still in the same situation where we are assessing him day-by-day and want to make sure when he returns he returns in the best possible condition.”