BOURNEMOUTH: Eddie Howe has revealed Carabao Cup final fitness concerns over Joe Willock after the Newcastle United midfielder limped out of the Magpies' draw at Bournemouth.
Marcos Senesi's finish put the struggling Cherries ahead before Miguel Almiron netted a first-half equaliser.
However, it was injuries that added caused Howe more headaches than the result itself.
Former Arsenal man Willock suffered a hamstring problem to add to a growing injury list, which also saw goalscorer Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin withdrawn due to knocks.
“The concern from today is Joe Willock who has a hamstring problem. We’ll see how he is,” said Howe, whose side play Liverpool next weekend before the final at Wembley against Manchester United in a fortnight.
“Miggy and Maxi I don’t think are too bad. Miggy, I think got a stamp on his, so I think he’ll be okay, Maxi, I think, was just a knock.”
Before a ball was even kicked United were dealt a blow when Callum Wilson was ruled out of a return to his former club with a slight hamstring problem. It is not thought to be enough to keep him out for too long, though.
And the Magpies looked a little lost without their target man, even if he hasn't been on his best form of late.
The Cherries dominated the first half, with Nick Pope the busier of the two goalkeepers. Dom Solanke tested the England keeper with a flicked header which Pope managed to palm wide, while the Magpies offered little to nothing at the other end.
The home side took a deserved lead on 35 minutes when a Dango Ouattara flick on, after he left the below par Kieran Trippier, was turned in by Argentine Senesi on the line.
Watching the opening 45 minutes you'd be forgiven for thinking it was Bournemouth who were in Champions League contention, not the bizarrely flat Magpies.
An injury to Joe Willock forced a rethink tactically, with the tried and tested 4-3-3 reverting an exploratory 4-2-3-1. And it seemed to have the desired effect as United, somehow, found a late half leveller.
A stretch by Allan Saint-Maximin to keep a ball in on the touchline sparked the equaliser as the Frenchman then carried into a dangerous area, like few others can, before splitting the Cherries' backline with a pass for Sean Longstaff. The in-form Geordie's powerful strike at goal was quite brilliantly saved by Neto, but the Brazilian could do nothing about Almiron's finish, which saw the United top scorer slide into the far corner for 1-1.
Things couldn't have got much worse than that first 45 from United, and it's fair to say they improved in the second period, but did very little to really threaten turning one point into three.
In fact, it was worrying knocks picked up by Almiron and Saint-Maximin that marred a slightly better half of football for Howe's men.
Before limping off, Saint-Maximin blazed one over the top and then forced Neto into a save that rebounded first to Longstaff, then substitute Anthony Gordon, but neither could tuck home.
While the Magpies were the second half aggressors, it was Bournemouth who almost nicked it at the death as a Burn error allowed Solanke the chance to win it. His deft touch back through his legs towards goal was somehow tidied up, then cleared off the goal line by Trippier.
The result sees the Magpies retain their place in the top four of the Premier League and take their unbeaten run in the competition to 17 games. However, it was the side's fifth draw in their last six games.
Howe said: “It was a tough game, we knew it was going to be. Bournemouth have a new energy, a lot of new signings and pace in their team. We weren’t at our best today, there’s no doubt about that. There were some really good passages of play but the final ball was missing. We threatened to produce a really good performance but we couldn’t capitalise when getting the ball in good areas.”