Eddie Howe was able to field an unchanged squad at Crystal Palace with the miraculous recovery of Bruno Guimaraes. The midfielder made continual progress throughout last week and was able to train on Friday before being inserted into the starting eleven at Selhurst Park.
Howe said the following about Bruno’s quick recovery during this morning’s press conference:
“Bruno said he felt 100% fit to play and the medical team was absolutely convinced he was OK and his performance I think showed that. We’re really pleased that he came through the game fine.”
Guimaraes’s availability took a selection decision out of Howe’s hands. Both Allan Saint-Maximin and Alexander Isak have not started in the league since prior to the respective injuries that kept them out of action for lengthy periods.
With Newcastle’s struggles in front of the net, Howe could tweak his starting eleven tomorrow to get more firepower on the pitch. Howe was asked about this attacking duo this morning in their fight for full fitness. This was Howe’s response:
“I’d say they’re both getting there, for sure. I think it’s different situations. With Alex, we’ve had to be mindful of the fact that he hasn’t had a lot of training time.
“With a lot of games, you can’t train the players to the intensity that Alex has probably needed. We’ve backed off his training, and exposed him to the games, but, at some stage, he’ll need that training loan to get back to his very best levels. We’re nursing him in gently.
“Allan’s had more training time. He’s had more fitness work, so I think Allan is in peak physical shape.”
Callum Wilson hasn’t scored since his brace against Aston Villa in late October. The 30-year-old struck a frustrated figure at Selhurst Park over the weekend before being withdrawn for Isak.
Howe recently brushed aside any worries about Wilson’s form. Howe said the following when asked whether he was concerned about Wilson’s goal drought after Saturday’s draw:
“Knowing Callum, no. He’s had very limited training time. He had an illness (after the World Cup).
“With Callum, he’s missed big chunks of training, and I think that always affects your sharpness as a player, regardless of position.
“Callum’s worked really hard for the team, and knowing him as I do the goals are just around the corner.”
Howe has a few different routes he could explore with his team selection tomorrow. He may opt to stay with the same eleven or could insert either Isak, Saint-Maximin, or both into the team and hope their inclusion produces the desired effect of more goals.
Here is Howe’s press conference from this morning in full.