EDDIE HOWE says his Newcastle United players will head to Milan with a spring in their step after Saturday’s 1-0 win over Brentford got their Premier League campaign back on track.

The Magpies ended a three-game losing run as Callum Wilson’s second-half penalty proved decisive at St James’ Park and lifted Howe’s side back to within four points of the top six.

Attention switches to Europe tomorrow morning, with Howe and his players set to fly to Italy ahead of Tuesday evening’s opening Champions League group game with AC Milan at the San Siro.

Newcastle’s return to the Champions League stage after an absence of more than two decades was always going to be a huge occasion, but Howe admits he and his squad will be able to embrace it even more enthusiastically on the back of a much-needed domestic success.

“Yes, I think we will enjoy it a little bit more because we have won,” said the Magpies boss, who expects to have former AC Milan midfielder Sandro Tonali available on Tuesday despite his absence from Saturday’s game because of a thigh issue. “There is some positivity returning to the squad.

“The players need to be able to play with freedom to be at their best, and the crowd did their best to help us to do that against Brentford, they understood our position and our start to the season.


“We are really pleased we could repay their faith in us with a win, and that means Tuesday’s game looks like a different game for us. Hopefully, it’s one we can enjoy, but as ever, we are going there to show our best version of ourselves and to try to win.”

While Howe insists his team selection for Saturday’s game was not directly influenced by Tuesday’s Champions League fixture, he admits the training schedule during the international break was drawn up with half-an-eye on this week’s Italian job.

“A lot of work has to be done in preparation for that before now,” he explained. “You can’t just suddenly switch on to Milan with two days’ notice.

“We have been working on different things and increasing our workload in preparation. That’s the beauty of the international break – you have two weeks to prepare, not for one game, but for a lot of games coming in this run. Hopefully, we can get that right.”

AC Milan’s preparations for Tuesday’s game could hardly have gone worse as they were thrashed 5-1 by derby rivals Inter Milan on Saturday afternoon.

Rafael Leao scored Milan’s goal midway through the second half, but a side featuring the likes of Olivier Giroud, Christian Pulisic and Ruben Loftus-Cheek were outplayed throughout at the San Siro.

“I’m not too sure if you can overreact to results,” said Howe. “We have won and we are in a good frame of mind, but we are not over-the-top happy. It’s important we control our emotions. I will analyse their derby game, and that will help in our preparation.”