EDDIE HOWE has confirmed that Sandro Tonali is available for selection for Newcastle United’s home game with Crystal Palace tomorrow, but the Magpies manager is still assessing whether the Italian is in a fit mental state to participate in the game.

Tonali has spent part of this week in Italy being investigated for his alleged involvement in illegal gambling, and is expected to face a lengthy ban now he has begun cooperating with the prosecuting authorities in Turin.

Newcastle’s £53m club-record signing has held a series of face-to-face discussions with Howe and other senior figures at St James’ Park, with the club adamant they will be standing by the Italian midfielder.

Whether he is part of the squad to face Palace remains to be seen, though, with Howe adamant Tonali’s wellbeing has to be his primary concern.

“Sandro is very much with us,” said the Newcastle head coach. “I think he trained twice this week with us, and he’s very much available for selection.

“Like I do with all the players, I’ll be analysing the training performances, how they look and how they feel. Sandro has trained well with us.

“He’s had a very, very difficult couple of weeks. He’s been dealing with a lot. I see him for a few hours a day, but from what I can see, he’s dealing with this extremely well and he’s controlling his emotions incredibly strongly.

“Underneath that, I’m sure there’s a lot going on, so I’ll have to make a call. Always, though, I have to bring it back to football and his training performances. Then, I have to try to make the best decision for the team.”

While sporting director Dan Ashworth and chief executive Darren Eales are liaising with the Italian authorities to ascertain exactly what Tonali is being accused of, and how the legal process is likely to play out from this point onwards, Howe’s sole focus in the last fortnight has been on protecting and supporting Tonali and his family.

“For me, the most important part of this whole incident is Sandro and his welfare,” said Howe. “It’s very easy for people to forget how young he is and the changes he’s had in his life, coming from Italy to England. That’s hard enough to deal with, and now he has this situation.

“We feel, as a football club, that straight away it was about throwing our arms around him, protecting him, and giving him the love and support that he needs to find solutions to the problems that he’s had.

“That’s what we’re endeavouring to do with a lot of conversations and a lot of communication with him and his family because it’s not just Sandro, it’s the people around him that will be so important to him as well.

“It’s been a big effort, and I have to say he’s handled himself superbly well. Obviously, he’s ben emotional, but he’s handled himself with respect and dignity.”