NEWCASTLE UNITED headed into the international break sitting seventh in the Premier League table in the wake of Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Bournemouth.

How have the last few weeks been for the Magpies, and what might lie around the corner once the action resumes?


Mixed. Since the last international break in mid-October, Newcastle have played seven matches, recording three wins, a draw and three defeats. After a month of considerable highs and lows though, the results only tell half the story.

The two standouts from the last four weeks were the Carabao Cup victory at Old Trafford and the Premier League home win over Arsenal. Both were hugely-creditable successes, with Newcastle knocking Manchester United out of the League Cup to set up a quarter-final tie with Chelsea and inflicting a first league defeat on Arsenal in a game that bristled with intensity and tension.

The Northern Echo: Anthony Gordon scores against ArsenalAnthony Gordon scores against Arsenal (Image: PA)

Two of last month’s three defeats came in Europe, with both coming at the hands of Borussia Dortmund. Newcastle were hardly disgraced in either game, but given the chances that were missed and Dortmund’s inconsistent form in the Bundesliga, the back-to-back losses feel like an opportunity missed. They have certainly made it much harder for the Magpies to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League, with Eddie Howe’s side propping up their group with two games to play.

Saturday’s defeat to Bournemouth was a bitter disappointment, and felt like a game too far amid Newcastle’s mounting injury crisis. Players have dropped out of the squad at an alarming rate in the last month, leaving Howe short of options in pretty much every position on the pitch.


Getting players fit – although that might be easier said than done. Miguel Almiron became the tenth player to join Newcastle’s injury list when he hobbled off at Birmingham at the weekend, with Sandro Tonali also unavailable for the rest of the season because of his suspension for gambling offences.

Howe expressed a hope that Almiron’s hamstring injury is “not serious” on Saturday evening, and while the Paraguayan has been withdrawn from international duty, he should have a decent chance of being available for the home game with a resurgent Chelsea that marks Newcastle’s return to action after the break.

The Northern Echo: Miguel Almiron suffered a defeat in Newcastle's defeat at BournemouthMiguel Almiron suffered a defeat in Newcastle's defeat at Bournemouth (Image: PA)

Alexander Isak should also be available for the Chelsea game given that he was stepping up his training programme at Darsley Park last week. The Swede has been badly missed since suffering a groin issue.

Beyond that, though, is hard to imagine too many other players being available for much of December. Howe conceded at the weekend that Callum Wilson’s hamstring problem is likely to sideline him for a “number of weeks”, and even when he returns, the striker’s injury record means he will have to be carefully managed.


Dan Burn, Matt Targett and Jacob Murphy will be sidelined until 2024, while Harvey Barnes is unlikely to be back much before the festive programme. The same is likely to be true of Elliot Anderson, who is struggling with his back.

Uncertainty clouds the current situation with Sven Botman, whose knee issue has already dragged on longer than was initially anticipated. Botman has not returned to training and is still consulting specialists – hardly a good sign.


Manic. Again. There is no let-up for the Magpies, with the fixture list between the Chelsea game on November 25 and the New Year’s Day meeting with Liverpool containing 11 matches in the space of 38 days.

There are some huge tests in there too, with Chelsea’s visit to St James’ Park sparking a run of four extremely testing Premier League games that also features a home game against Manchester United as well as a trip to north London to face Spurs. Throw in the New Year trip to Anfield and the potential banana skin of an away game against Luton on the Saturday before Christmas and you have all the ingredients for a tricky spell.

That would be bad enough given Newcastle’s ongoing injury issues, but there are also three massive cup matches to squeeze in before the end of the year.

The group stage of the Champions League comes to a head in late November and early December, with Newcastle heading to the Parc des Princes before hosting AC Milan at St James’. The Magpies probably need at least four points from those matches to have a realistic chance of finishing in the top two in their group. At the very least, they will be determined to secure third spot to qualify for the Europa League.

The Northern Echo: Sean Longstaff scores in the home game against Paris St GermainSean Longstaff scores in the home game against Paris St Germain (Image: PA)

They will also be targeting a place in the Carabao Cup semi-finals, with the last-eight trip to Stamford Bridge on December 19 a key fixture before the end of the year.


Signings, surely. Newcastle desperately need some reinforcements, and for all that FFP limits remain an issue, there will have to be additions at the turn of the year.

The Premier League’s anticipated redrawing of the rules surrounding loans from associated parties will almost certainly rule out a move for Al-Hilal’s Ruben Neves, but central-midfield remains a priority position given Tonali’s absence and a loan move for Manchester City’s Kalvin Phillips makes understandable appeal.

The Northern Echo: Newcastle are interested in a January move for Manchester City's Kalvin PhillipsNewcastle are interested in a January move for Manchester City's Kalvin Phillips (Image: PA)

Another attacker would also be desirable, although it might prove hard to persuade a Premier League rival to loan or sell a forward in January. As a result, it would not be a surprise to see Newcastle looking abroad.

A recall for Yankuba Minteh, who has been scoring goals for Feyenoord in the Eredivisie, is a possibility, although the youngster was being assessed for an injury issue of his own last week.

At the other end of the field, Newcastle have been linked with Mali defender Almany Toure, who is available as a free agent after leaving Eintracht Frankfurt in the summer.