Newcastle v United: Opposition team news

Friday 31 March 2023 11:14

Newcastle United have used the international break to their advantage, according to Magpies boss Eddie Howe, as they prepare for Sunday's key clash with Manchester United at St James' Park.

The north-east side know they can move above the Reds in the table with a victory and their squad looks in good shape as they bid to avenge their Carabao Cup final defeat to Erik ten Hag's men.

Nick Pope and Sven Botman withdrew from the England and Netherlands squads respectively but have trained and should be available, while Joelinton returns from suspension.

Anthony Gordon, who was cup-tied for the Wembley defeat, appears to be the only doubt while Miguel Almiron is definitely sidelined.

The Magpies decamped to Dubai during the break, for a warm-weather training camp.

Newcastle boss Eddie Howe has been previewing the 16:30 BST kick-off on Sunday.

Speaking at his press conference, Howe provided a positive bulletin ahead of the weekend: "The break was good. It's been good for some players, it gave us an opportunity to rest a couple that were carrying injuries. Fabian Schar [who was excused a Switzerland call-up] is a prime example of someone who played through pain so the break came at a good time for him.

"Nick [Pope] felt a problem in his thigh after the Wolves game and didn't train in preparation for the Nottingham Forest game but completed that game with a bit of discomfort. He didn't train in Dubai but has done this week so the signs are good.

"Sven [Botman] suffered a nasty bout of food poisoning. I don't think he was alone in the Netherlands camp, so he left early to get himself back up to speed. He's trained with us since he's returned, so he should be fine."

Winger Gordon is pushing to be fit in time but Almiron has been ruled out, as he seems unlikely to return ahead of schedule.

"I don't know if he [Gordon] will be available on Sunday," admitted Howe. "He took part in a very small part of training on Wednesday, so we'll see how he's responded to that today.

"I'd love him [Almiron] to beat the timescale given but I don't see it currently. He's making good progress and he's pain-free so I don't think there are any-long term issues but it's just the time it takes for the muscle to heal. I think we're four weeks off, maybe slightly less, but he's making really good progress."

The Magpies manager also confirmed forwards Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin have trained with no problems on Tyneside after their own injury niggles, describing that as "very positive".

One player who did go away on international duty, Alexander Isak, should be fine and he could be a danger man, as the Sweden striker has been in fine form.

"We haven't seen him yet," added Howe. "So I'll see him for the first time today but I'm not aware of any problems. He's got himself into a really good place and he's getting fitter with every game. His ability has never been in question."