EDDIE HOWE admits “mistakes have been made” when it comes to Newcastle United’s injury record this season – and admits the club have to improve the way they prepare their players for the demands of a Premier League season.

While some of the Magpies’ injured players are gradually beginning to return to the first-team fold, they are still without a host of senior stars who are nursing long-term issues.

Nick Pope, Matt Targett, Joe Willock, Joelinton, Elliot Anderson and Alexander Isak are all currently sidelined, while Jacob Murphy and Callum Wilson also suffered injury problems at the City Ground at the weekend.

Sven Botman, Dan Burn and Harvey Barnes have all missed big chunks of the season, and while Howe insists the majority of Newcastle’s injury concerns have been impossible to avoid, he concedes there are lessons to be learned to avoid a repeat in future campaigns.

“We went into this season with a squad built to cope with all the demands we would face, and all the competitions we would play in,” said the Magpies boss, whose side climbed back into seventh position as they beat Nottingham Forest at the weekend. “It’s been unfortunate for us, and we hope it’s been a one-off season.

“It’s not just the number of injuries we’ve had, but the length of time those players have been out for. That has been the most difficult thing for us to deal with. You can handle one or two, but it has been three of four months for five, six, eight players. There has been no light at the end of the tunnel and then your squad is stretched, and you get more injuries.

“Certainly, we have made mistakes. Certainly, we could do things better. And then you add Sandro’s (Tonali) situation on top of that in an area of the team where we could not afford that to happen, we have lost him as well. It’s been one of those seasons where you can feel everything has gone against us.”


Nevertheless, Howe accepts there will have to be a detailed post-season debrief that investigates all aspects of the players’ training, strength and conditioning, and medical recovery work.

Along with the rest of the senior coaching staff, the Newcastle boss will examine what areas could be tweaked or improved in an attempt to reduce the risk of long-term injury within the squad.

“When you have the number of injuries we have had, some of those injuries are going to come from either too much load or maybe our programmes are not good enough in the gym,” Howe added. “The players do a lot of work. They don’t just go out on the training pitch, they do a lot of gym work, a lot of different things.

“If we are sitting here going, ‘We have not made any mistakes’, I think we are being fools here. So, of course, we analyse everything, and when I say we, I include everyone at the football club. No individual, no individual department, we are all in it together. Of course, we have to look at that and respond and improve.”

While the injury situation has been especially damaging this season, Howe insists any review of training and medical procedures will be part of an ongoing process aimed at driving the club forward.

There has been significant investment into the training ground in the last 12 months, so Howe accepts the day-to-day procedures being followed at Darsley Park cannot be allowed to stagnate.

“We have to improve what we deliver for the players,” he said. “But I would be saying that even if we didn’t have an injury this season. Football never stands still. Demands are only going up physically. Look at the demands physically this year in the Premier League, it is a lot quicker league than it was last year.

“That will continue to be the case, the physical demands are getting greater. The games are getting more, especially with us this season So, your strategies and how you treat the players behind the scenes have to improve also.”