Newcastle have five more matches to play before the next international break comes late next month. That will give us a two-week lull between our match at Brighton on March 20th and Spurs coming to St. James’ Park on April 3rd.
More importantly, the match at Spurs is the best-case scenario for the return of striker Callum Wilson as it comes 7 weeks into his 6 to 8 week timeframe. How we cope without him over the next five weeks could play a massive role in our survival chances.
The international break, though, brings with it its own concerns in the times of Covid. Miguel Almiron is due to return to his native Paraguay for World Cup qualifiers at Chile and at home against Columbia on March 24th and 29th, respectively.
Both Paraguay and Chile are on the list of the locations designated for mandatory quarantine, where anyone must self-isolate for 10 days after returning. After our Tottenham match on April 3rd, Newcastle travel to Burnley on April 10th, which is just outside the 10-day window but could still come into play.
The Chronicle has a report about the Government possibly suspending quarantine rules for players involved in World Cup qualifying on a case by case basis. The report says Newcastle may have Almiron fly on a private jet while documenting that he will not be in contact with the public.
It appears that Newcastle will have to take as many precautions as possible to ensure Almiron is a good candidate for the exemption. Here is a quote from a Government source on how the upcoming World Cup qualifiers may be treated:
“What we know is that players have been much more at risk of transmission in domestic situations so if the clubs can demonstrate that their players will be effectively kept in bubbles, then there may be some flexibility but much will depend on the state of the virus in the countries concerned closer to the time.”
The last thing Newcastle need is for Almiron to miss any matches after the international break. He’s been our best player over the past month or so. Having him available when Wilson returns, which will hopefully be after the break, will provide Newcastle with the best chance of picking up points against Spurs.