EDDIE HOWE felt Lewis Hall’s energetic full-back performance was one of the main positives to emerge from Newcastle United’s midweek defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford.

The Magpies slipped to a 3-2 defeat that means they head to Brentford for their final game of the season on Sunday with their hopes of qualifying for Europe no longer in their own hands.

Howe’s bemoaned his side’s defensive lapses in the immediate aftermath of Wednesday’s loss, but was quick to absolve Hall of any blame for the loss.

The 19-year-old turned in an impressive performance at left-back, defending resolutely while also looking to get forward whenever the opportunity presented itself. He capped his display with a fine stoppage-time strike that briefly gave Newcastle hope of mounting a dramatic late comeback.

Hall spent the first two-thirds of the season on the fringe of the Magpies’ first-team set-up, with Howe admitting it was taking him time to adapt after his move from Chelsea last summer.

However, the teenager has forced his way into his head coach’s plans in the last month or so, with Wednesday’s appearance meaning he has either started or been a substitute in all of Newcastle’s last nine games.


“I thought he (Hall) was terrific,” said Howe. “The goal was an unbelievable finish from distance, and he’s capable of that, but his all-round performance was great. I thought he looked really good defensively. He’s very good on the ball, and for such a young player, he shows real maturity. I’m delighted with how he’s progressing.”

Newcastle head to Brentford knowing they could win and still fail to qualify for Europe if other results – including that of the FA Cup final – do not go in their favour, but alternatively could lose and still secure a European spot if other results go their way.

“I’ve been saying for weeks I thought this would go to the end,” said Howe. “I didn’t want to create that by thinking it, but I just had a feeling that it was going to go to the end.

“The feeling in the dressing room (after the Man Utd game) was one of frustration, frustration at ourselves. But I hope the players use that to respond on Sunday.”