EDDIE HOWE has defended his team selection as Newcastle United suffered a 3-2 defeat at Manchester United this evening that means their European fate is no longer in their own hands.

The Magpies have fallen three points behind sixth-placed Chelsea and are only ahead of Manchester United on goal difference with one game remaining. Even if they win at Brentford at the weekend, they will be relying on Manchester City winning the FA Cup in order to qualify for Europe if Chelsea take anything from their final game at home to Bournemouth.

Newcastle’s defensive failings were their undoing tonight, with Kieran Trippier looking short of match sharpness as he struggled at right-back. Martin Dubravka and Emil Krafth were both found wanting on occasion, with Nick Pope and Fabian Schar watching on from the substitutes’ bench.


“We have players back and available, but are they 100 per cent themselves? No,” said Howe, after Manchester United scored through Kobbie Mainoo, Amad Diallo and Rasmus Hojlund. “That’s the difficult position that I’m in. I need them to enter the pitch feeling themselves and feeling really good.

“I picked the team that I went with, and I believed in the team. I thought the team performed well, but just not well enough in those key moments.”

Asked specifically about Trippier’s first start in more than two months, Howe explained that his hand was largely forced when Tino Livramento picked up an ankle injury that will also keep him out of Sunday’s trip to Brentford’s Gtech Community Stadium.

“That was dictated to by Tino’s injury,” said the Magpies boss. “Tino picked up an injury on Saturday to his ankle. So, Kieran had to play when he’s had limited training time.

“But like a number of players for us this season, he’s put himself forward for the group. I think he played well, but he was fatiguing in that moment (in the second half), so we had to take him off.”

While Livramento will not be available for Newcastle’s final game of the campaign at the weekend, Howe is hoping Callum Wilson will be able to feature against Brentford despite having failed to make the squad at Old Trafford.

“Tino won’t make Sunday,” said Howe. “We just now need to get him right for next season. With Callum, though, we anticipate that he will be fit for the weekend.”