ANY player can pick up an injury. But when it’s your major attacking transfer target breaking down five minutes into a game with what appears to be a recurrence of a hamstring injury that sidelined him for the best part of three months in the second half of the previous season, it’s only natural that you’d start to worry.

Newcastle United have devoted a lot of time and resources to the pursuit of Hugo Ekitike, a chase that began in January, only to break down when the teenage striker opted to remain with his current club, Reims, in France, but which was resurrected at the start of this summer.

They’re also willing to hand over a large chunk of money in order to sign the 19-year-old, with a deal having been agreed with Reims that will see the Magpies pay an initial fee of around €30m, with a further €5m set to be agreed in add-ons. Given the budgetary restrictions Newcastle’s recruitment team are attempting to work within this summer, that is a hefty outlay for a player who has only made 26 senior appearances in Ligue 1 and who does not have a cap at either Under-21 or full international level.

So, there would have been understandable concern on Thursday evening when in the fifth minute of France Under-20s’ Toulon Tournament semi-final against Mexico, Ekitike pulled up clutching his hamstring.

After a brief period of treatment, the striker, whose leg was already heavily wrapped in tape, was forced to admit to defeat and hobble to the sidelines alongside a member of France’s medical staff. France went on to win the game 4-1, but there is surely precious little chance of Ekitike being involved in Sunday’s final against Venezuela Under-23s.

The early indications emerging within the French media suggest the teenager’s latest setback is likely to be linked to the serious hamstring issue that saw him sidelined from the middle of February until the start of May. Having broken down in the early stages of a draw with Brest, Ekitike returned for the final three games of Reims’ season, but he didn’t play the full 90 minutes of any of those matches, which suggests his employers were keen to limit his workload.

Should any of this matter to Newcastle this summer? The Magpies are interested in Ekitike for the next five years not the next five matches, and while hamstring injuries can be difficult to manage, they are hardly career-threatening. Given his age, Ekitike should be more than capable of making a complete recovery that means he does not have to worry about the state of his hamstrings again.

Yet, for all of that, there must be a couple of nagging doubts in the mind of Eddie Howe and the rest of Newcastle’s recruitment team this morning. If Ekitike has suffered a recurrence of his original problem, he will almost certainly be unable to join in with the start of pre-season training and will be playing catch-up ahead of the opening weekend of a season that starts earlier than usual this year because of the winter World Cup.

That is a less-than-ideal scenario for anyone, but it has the potential to be especially troublesome for a teenager making his first move overseas, and who expressed reservations about leaving his homeland when he turned down the option of the same move five months previously.

Then, to further complicate matters, there is the issue of Callum Wilson’s injury record to consider. Wilson has been bedevilled by injury issues in the last couple of seasons, to the extent where he has been restricted to just 40 starts in all competitions in his two years in a Newcastle shirt.

The Northern Echo:

That means he has missed roughly half of the Magpies’ games, and while Howe insists there is no reason why he cannot remain injury-free for the whole of next season, it would be a brave manager who was relying on Newcastle’s number nine being available for every game.

With that in mind, do the Magpies want to be gambling on someone who would be arriving on Tyneside with a pre-existing injury issue?

They might conclude that the long-term benefits of signing Ekitike far outweigh any short-term risks. At the very least, though, it is another conundrum to ponder as Newcastle assess their transfer options.