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Cambridge clash is 'of huge importance', says Howe after Trippier capture

After making his first signing as Newcastle United head coach, Eddie Howe says Saturday’s FA Cup third round clash with Cambridge United is “of huge importance” to the club as they look to start 2022 in the best possible way.

The Magpies completed the signing of full back Kieran Trippier from Atlético Madrid on Friday, with the England international penning a two-and-a-half year deal at St. James’ Park.

The 31-year-old becomes the first new addition under new ownership and the first of Howe’s tenure on Tyneside, with the club waiting to be given “the green light” before deciding whether Trippier will make his debut against the League One outfit this weekend.

But the United boss insisted that despite his side’s Premier League position he would not be taking the FA Cup lightly, with progress in the famous old competition of paramount importance to Howe.

"We need to win. We need to win our next game, absolutely. It's of huge importance – I've made that very clear to the players, I've made that very clear in our preparation," he said.

"For me, there's no balancing act between anything other than trying to give our best performance, trying to win our game and progress in the competition. For me, it's very clear what we need to do."

Howe's squad has been depleted by Covid-19 and injuries in recent weeks, with a lower-than-usual number of players available to train this week ahead of the visit of Cambridge.

Isaac Hayden's knee surgery will keep the midfielder sidelined for a while, with forward Callum Wilson also among those set to miss out in the short term.

Howe wouldn't be drawn on a timeframe for his leading goalscorer's return, but did admit that Wilson's injury – sustained in last month's draw with Manchester United – could have an impact on his plans for the rest of the January transfer window.

"We don't have a clear diagnosis at the moment. Callum will have another scan very shortly to try and determine exactly how long he will be out – there's still a little bit of grey over the length of time," he said.

"Certainly, I think depending on those results will possibly impact what we do, but it's all dependent of course on who's available and who we can recruit.

"It's probably the toughest position at any time of year to recruit in – the quality of players in that position really is very short on the ground – so first and foremost my thoughts are with Callum. We hope his injury isn't serious and we can get him on the pitch as soon as possible, as we know how important he is for us."

The addition of Trippier – a player who worked with Howe during their time at Burnley – has given the Magpies a boost ahead of what will be a crucial second half of the 2021/22 campaign.

And Howe couldn't hide his satisfaction at securing the services of the former Spurs man, who lifted the LaLiga title in the Spanish capital last term.   

"We're delighted with the signing. He's a player I know very well from our time at Burnley together. I know he's going to bring a huge amount off the pitch and on the pitch," he said.

"Off the pitch, (he will bring) his leadership qualities, winning mentality – he's very driven to succeed, and I think all his experiences that he's accumulated in the game will help us in our current position. On the pitch, I think we've got an outstanding technical player who will attack very well, he'll bring a level of calmness to our play on the ball and he's a top defender as well. We're delighted with the signing."

Howe added: "I think it's a sign that the club has a huge pull, and I'm not talking financial here. Kieran hasn't come for the financial benefits of the contract, he's come for the club and for the challenge that the team faces at this current time, and also the longer-term vision.

"I think that's a massive thing for the football club. Hopefully with his signing, I think other players around the world will potentially look at that and share his dream and his vision for what he sees, and I think that's a big, big thing for us."

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