EDDIE HOWE sought to downplay the delay to Newcastle United’s arrival into Milan after finally arriving at the San Siro this evening – but admitted his players had landed in Italy ‘later than he would have liked’ ahead of tomorrow’s opening Champions League group game.

Newcastle’s flight to Milan was delayed by around two-and-a-half hours because of weather issues, with the planned take-off time of 2.30pm being pushed back to around 4.45pm. The Magpies’ players spent an extra hour in the airport terminal, and were also forced to sit on the plane for around an hour too before it left the runway.

As a result, Howe and his players did not land in Milan until after 8pm, and the Magpies head coach did not arrive at the San Siro to conduct his pre-match press conference until around 9pm.

Sandro Tonali’s press briefing did not begin until just before 9.30pm, with the pair unlikely to be settled in the team hotel much before midnight, hardly ideal preparation for Newcastle’s return to the Champions League stage after an absence of more than two decades.

“I believe it was a weather problem, so we were delayed taking off,” explained Howe. “We were sat on the runway for quite some time. It was nothing that’s too out of the ordinary for us. We do a lot of travelling in the UK, and it can happen from time to time. We’re here now.

“It’s just part and parcel of the job that we do. It’s not out of the normal that that can happen. This was a weather problem, but we’ve been in similar situations.

“It’s been a long day for us, we had an early start and a late finish. It’s something we’re used to, although it’s a slightly later arrival time than we would have liked for the players.”

Newcastle’s schedule was influenced by the decision not to train at the San Siro on the evening before the game, which is a customary occurrence for Champions League matches.

The Magpies applied for special dispensation from UEFA to train at their Darsley Park base on Tyneside rather than in Milan, with Howe admitting he wanted the opportunity to work on tactical issues behind-closed-doors rather than in an arena where his work could potentially have been watched.

“The thought of not coming earlier in the day was so we could do our tactical work behind closed doors,” said the Newcastle boss. “For me, that’s so important, that we get our work done and are able to work because it’s such a small amount of time between games. It was really valuable that we did that.

“I don’t think it impacted the flight schedule, the weather did that. We wanted to train and prepare for the game, whereas if you train here then that goes out of the window.”