Gaffer gives updates on Wilson, Trippier, Hayden and Lewis
Written by Dan King
Eddie Howe says key men Kieran Trippier and Callum Wilson are both "on schedule" as they continue their respective injury rehabilitations at Newcastle United's warm-weather training camp in Dubai.
And the Magpies' head coach has also delivered a positive update on the fitness of Isaac Hayden and Jamal Lewis, who were not included in United's 25-man squad for the second half of the current campaign but have both travelled to the Middle East with their team mates, along with Ciaran Clark.
Trippier fractured a bone in his foot during last month's win over Aston Villa - when he scored the only goal of the game - and has been on crutches since undergoing a successful operation, although the England international has continued to support his team-mates at both home and away games.
Wilson, meanwhile, hasn't played since limping out of the 1-1 draw with Manchester United back in December yet remains the team's leading goalscorer with six and has now resumed light training, working closely with physio Sean Beech at the Nad Al Sheba Sports Complex this week.
"I'd say they're on schedule from where they were given their respective injuries, but I wouldn't say necessarily ahead of schedule," explained Howe, speaking to nufc.co.uk from the Magpies' team hotel in Dubai. "They're both serious injuries, both enough to obviously be operated on and go through a very intense rehab period.
"Callum's injury, you have to be very careful with; that we don't push him back too quickly and he ends up injuring himself again, because the Achilles/calf is a very delicate area of the body and you need to make sure it's robust enough to withstand heavy load.
"Kieran's is slightly different. (It's) a bone injury and I think, touch wood, if he can come through the early stages of coming out in his boots and then progressing quite quickly, he's one we could see back in action hopefully pretty soon.
"But with both injuries, I do think we have to be very cautious. We don't want to re-injure the player."
Hayden underwent knee surgery at the end of last year, having played through the pain barrier for some time. His last appearance came back in December, while Lewis hurt his hamstring against Liverpool in the same month but had been affected by a niggling injury for a while before that.
Howe added: "Jamal's had a long-standing groin problem and I was really pleased to see him operated on. We hope that that's fixed his long-standing problem and he will, again, be okay in a relatively short period of time to return to training with us.
"And Isaac's been working after having a serious knee injury - again, one he'd played with for a long period of time. Touch wood, he'll be back training soon."
United will spend most of the rest of the week in Dubai before returning to Tyneside to continue their preparations as normal ahead of their next game, at Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, 3rd April.
And the head coach said: "It's very, very important that when you have a break in between games, you don't lose fitness or sharpness - and I'm very confident we won't.
"I hope the group is more united than ever and renewed in its fight to stay in the league, hopefully mentally refreshed from the break and ready to attack these nine games. The Premier League's a very difficult league and we take nothing for granted.
"We go into every game knowing we have to give our best to win. We've been on a brilliant run, but that is over. Now we have to start afresh."