EDDIE HOWE will make a late decision over whether or not Joe Willock is capable of starting in Newcastle United’s FA Cup fifth-round tie at Blackburn Rovers tomorrow night.

Willock ended a three-month injury absence when he came on as a second-half substitute in Saturday’s 4-1 defeat at Arsenal.

The midfielder scored Newcastle’s late consolation goal at the Emirates, and has shown no ill effects in the aftermath of the game. However, given that he only managed six appearances before breaking down again after his last injury setback back in November , Howe will carefully consider what to do with the 24-year-old at Ewood Park.


“Alexander (Isak) and Joe have come out of the game okay to this stage,” said the Magpies head coach. “We were delighted with Joe’s return, I thought he looked really good when he came on. He scored a very typical Joe Willock goal, which was great to see.

“It’s a difficult one (to decide whether or not he’s ready to start). It’s something I’ll have to discuss at length with the medical team. I think he’s very, very close to starting, he’s done a lot of work. Although we’ve only seen the 30 minutes or so that he played against Arsenal, he’s actually done a lot of work, and he seems to be getting himself into a position (to start), so that’ll be a judgement call.”

Martin Dubravka missed Saturday’s defeat at the Emirates because he was suffering from an illness, but Howe is hopeful the Slovakian shot-stopper will have recovered in time to return to the starting side at Blackburn.

“We hope that he’s improved,” said Howe, whose side will be looking to make the FA Cup quarter-finals tomorrow, with the game having to be determined on the night. “We hope he’s available for selection, although at this moment in time, we still don’t know.”