EDDIE HOWE claims Sandro Tonali will have been buoyed by the powerful show of support he received from the St James’ Park crowd this afternoon.

Tonali was a second-half substitute as Newcastle cruised to a 4-0 win over Crystal Palace, with Howe opting to name the Italian in the matchday squad despite his involvement in an ongoing investigation into illegal gambling.

The 23-year-old is facing a potential ban of around a year after he was interviewed by the Italian authorities in Turin last week, but after Howe urged Newcastle’s supporters to “show their love” for the club-record signing prior to today’s game, the Magpies boss was delighted with the subsequent response.


Tonali’s name was cheered when it was announced on the stadium PA prior to kick-off, and a giant ‘Forza Tonali’ flag was flown on the Gallowgate End prior to kick-off.

A huge cheer greeted the midfielder when he left the dugout to warm up on the touchline midway through the first half, and there were even louder roars when he came onto the field to replace Bruno Guimaraes in the 69th minute.

The cheers were repeated at the end of the game, when Tonali was ushered ahead of his team-mates to lead Newcastle’s customary post-match lap of honour.

“It’s just a big thank you from me to our supporters because that reception at the end was incredible,” said Howe. “It was emotional. As I said on Friday, he’s a human being, he’s going through a very emotional time and the supporters reacted in the way that I hoped they would and I could feel the love between him and them and that will do him the world of good.

“He'll feel much better about everything, I'm sure. We don't know what's ahead for him, but it’s just a big thank you from me to them (the fans).

“I think the hardest part is ahead regardless of what happens. Immediately, you get a lot of attention and people are talking about the situation. He’s had the love of the supporters today, but that’s difficult to maintain over a long period of time.

“Who knows what’s ahead? I just think it’s great for him to know he’s got the support, not just of the senior management at the football club and the manager, but also the support of the supporters, and they’re the most important people.”

Howe assessed Tonali’s wellbeing in the build-up to the game, and was always confident the Italian was capable of doing himself justice if asked to take to the field.

“He very much wanted to play and to perform,” said Howe. “I haven't really gone into detail on that. For me, there was no decision to make as in would I or could I play him? It was yes, I could see that from how he's trained, so there was no part of me that goes, 'Ah, he's not ready to play football'.

“Then, we just have to just introduce him at the right time and make sure it's right for the team. It was a good time to do it today, and I thought he played well when he came on.”

With the Italian investigation into Tonali’s alleged offences ongoing, it remains to be seen whether the midfielder is able to play in Wednesday’s Champions League home game against Borussia Dortmund.

“I’ve got no idea (on the timescale of what will happen next),” said Howe. “It’s not something I’m dealing with on a day-to-day basis. I’m hearing little snippets, but I can’t give you that information.”