Eddie Howe has given his press conference ahead of tomorrow’s match against Nottingham Forest to kick off the new campaign. He immediately confirmed that the injury situation was clearing up with Javier Manquillo back in training and Fede Fernandez and Jamal Lewis close.
However, the extent of Jonjo Shelvey’s hamstring problem is still unknown. Here is some of Howe’s update per Newcastle’s Twitter account:
“Jonjo is in London tonight for another assessment so we don’t have a clear, defined timeframe on his injury.
“Jamal Lewis and Federico Fernández are working their way and shouldn’t be too long. Manquillo is back in training too so we’re not too bad.”
Some reports claimed Shelvey was initially expected to only miss a couple of matches. Hopefully, that remains the case as the 30-year-old put in a tremendous amount of work ahead of pre-season to get into tremendous physical condition.
One player who could benefit from Shelvey’s absence is Sean Longstaff. The local lad has had a spectacular pre-season after signing a new deal in May. It could be Sean who gets the nod tomorrow over Joe Willock.
Howe was asked about the Geordie and had this to say:
“I’m looking for a big season from him. Since I’ve started working with him I’ve seen someone who is committed to becoming the best player he can be.
“Every day in training he gives everything – he loves the club. He’s got a big part to play.”
Howe has some selection headaches in multiple areas of the pitch, midfield being just one. New signings Nick Pope and Sven Botman are pushing Martin Dubravka and Dan Burn, who have been equally strong this summer.
Botman has been especially eye-catching with his cool demeanor, dominance in the air, and range of passing. The 22-year-old may have done enough to unseat Burn in the starting eleven despite his inexperience in England.
Howe has been extremely impressed with the Dutchman saying:
“I think he’s ready to play. I’ve seen him during pre-season and what a talent he is. I think he’s going to be everything we hoped he would be. He’s technically very good, very strong, and very good defensively.
“We look at every player individually and try to make the right call for them and the team so what I do with Sven you’ll find out but I’ve been very pleased with the signing.”
It’s a nail-biter as to who will get into the starting eleven against Forest. The battle for that left-sided center-back position could go either way. The anticipation is building to see who Howe goes with for the season opener.