Everyone needs to step up, says Howe ahead of Carabao Cup tie
Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe admitted each member of his injury-stricken squad "has a huge role to play" ahead of Wednesday's Carabao Cup fourth round tie away at Manchester United (kick-off 8.15pm GMT).
The Magpies travel to Old Trafford, backed by 7,000 travelling away supporters, aiming for a first away victory against the Red Devils since 2013 in order to book their place in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals for a third time in the last four campaigns.
With a number of injury casualties amongst the club’s ranks ahead of three competitive matches in the space of seven days, hosting Arsenal in the Premier League on Saturday before travelling to Germany for Tuesday's UEFA Champions League Group F clash against Borussia Dortmund, Howe stressed the importance each United squad member will play in the upcoming weeks.
Howe also reflected on United's memorable run to last year's Carabao Cup final before suffering a 2-0 defeat against Erik ten Hag's side and is keen to replicate a familiar passage this term as the club go in search of winning a first domestic cup competition since 1955.
Here are some of the main talking points from the boss’ pre-match media briefing at the Magpies’ Benton training centre on Tuesday morning:
On the hectic playing schedule, with the Magpies facing the prospect of a potential 14 competitive fixtures during the remainder of the calendar year:
“It’s a busy period for us. A lot of games. We look forward to Manchester United next. We’re going to have to utilise our squad, we have another game against Arsenal a couple of days later and then we go to Dortmund.
“To not use our squad would be foolish but that doesn’t mean that we don’t trust and back our squad to be able to go to Old Trafford and try to win the game.
“You can have a game where you lose one or two players and suddenly the outlook on the squad and dynamic of the squad changes but you just have to roll with the punches. You have to absorb the hits and have to find a way, which is what we’ll try to do.
“It’s not ideal for us, especially with the season we have. It’s a totally different feel to last season where we could maybe absorb those hits a bit easier with the week to week games. We’re not in that position now so we’re going to need everybody in the squad to step up which I think is the key message. Everyone has to give a bit more.
“Every player in the squad is so important and has a huge role to play."
On facing Manchester United, who defeated the Magpies in last season's Carabao Cup final at Wembley Stadium in February:
“Manchester United are a top team with top players. They’ll, no doubt, possibly rotate their squad, their team, but that is slightly unclear until we get the team sheet.
“I think one of the key tests of any team is how you respond to setbacks. We had one against Borussia Dortmund and I thought it was a good response from the group at the weekend in a really good game against Wolves so I think that’s always what you’re looking to to do when you’re in the manager’s position.
“Our emotion is to try to prepare and win the game. One win and we’re into the quarter-final of the competition. We loved our run in it last year and we’re determined to try and do as well as we can despite the fact we do have a few injuries and the squad will be stretched to a degree. We’ll still try and be competitive.
“I don’t think, for this game, we’re expecting anyone that wasn’t available before Wolves to be available now. The majority are longer-term unfortunately for us. That’s the position we’re in so we’ll be going with a very similar squad.
“(Sven) Botman is unclear at the moment so we’re going day-by-day with that one currently. Alex, we hope, will be back after the international break.”
On Emil Krafth’s involvement in a Magpies match day squad, for the first time since sustaining an anterior cruciate ligament injury in a Carabao Cup tie at Tranmere Rovers in August 2022, against Wolverhampton Wanderers last weekend:
“Very good (to have Emil back). He’s had a really good period of work. He’s worked incredibly hard with the physios and sports science team, doing everything that we’ve asked of him.
“I think he’s in a good place. He’s had development games to get the finishing touches to his sharpness so I think he looks really good at the moment and it’s great to have him back with us.”
On Lewis Hall, who made his first Newcastle start in September’s Carabao Cup third round victory against Manchester City at St. James’ Park:
“He’s a talented player. He can play various positions for us, which in our current position we are going to need. Lewis has been training well.
“He’s been adapting to quite a big change in his life so for such a young player to move from London and settle in here, I think he’s done it well. The best of him is yet to come, without a doubt.
"When you get an opportunity you have to take it, and Lewis has done that. His performance against Manchester City was very good, he’s a player we really like.”
On the backing of 7,000 Geordies for Wednesday’s trip to Old Trafford:
“The support never ceases to amaze me. Seven thousand people travelling that way on a Wednesday night, especially in difficult weather conditions we’ve had in the last couple of weeks, is a fantastic effort and we will try and reward that support with the best performance we can give.
“Even when we’re down on numbers in a sense of having a big home crowd, our supporters make noise like no other away crowd.
“If we can, and if our supporters can make it that kind of environment, then we will try and stimulate them and give them reason to get into the game. Obviously, that expectation always falls on us.”
On last year’s venture to the Carabao Cup final, the club’s first domestic cup final appearance since 1999:
“There was more pride than disappointment but, of course, you can’t help but think of the final itself and the emotions of losing.
“There was a lot of pride in the journey we took to get there and the scenes that we witnessed, even the spectacle of Wembley and the reaction of our supporters, the flags and the colours.
“That will stand in my memory and I think it whet the appetite for us. That was the most important thing. We want this on a more regular basis and we’re determined to get back there.
“That’s the challenge for us and tomorrow will dictate what we do in this competition."