Howe backs Magpies to secure first win
Newcastle United boss Eddie Howe has backed his players to record that elusive first win of the season “sooner rather than later” as they get set to take on Burnley on Saturday.
The Clarets arrive at St. James’ Park (3pm kick-off) for what is shaping up to be a crucial clash between two of the Premier League’s bottom three clubs.
And head coach Howe, who spent 21 months in charge at Burnley almost a decade ago, says he has seen enough from his charges to suggest that a victory could be just around the corner as they enter the traditionally unforgiving Christmas period.
"I think every game is a game that we're going into to win. We're desperate for that first three points," he said.
"There were so many positives to take from Tuesday (against Norwich City) – although it wasn't the result we wanted, the manner of the performance in the circumstances that we had was really, really encouraging for the future.
"If we can go into this game with the same fundamentals that we produced – the same spirit, fight and togetherness that we showed on the pitch – then I would back the players to get that first win sooner rather than later."
One of the most promising aspects of United’s performances since Howe's appointment has been the re-emergence of Joelinton, who netted in the draw with Brentford and turned in another tireless display against the Canaries in midweek.
Howe believes the Brazilian's "selfless mindset" makes him an asset to his side – and reckons there is more to come from the former Hoffenheim frontman.
"I think Joe's been fantastic for me since we came in. We identified that we really, really like him. We think he's got a really good mix of physicality and technical ability, and you saw it the other night in some really tight situations deep on the pitch (with) some superb footwork to get out of some really difficult areas," he said.
"His work rate has been a real feature of his play – he's covered every blade of grass for us, he's given everything for the team. (He has) a real selfless mindset, I'd say.
"I've been really, really pleased with him. I think there's more to come as well – I think he can continue to improve – but he's going to be a huge player for us."
The Magpies could welcome captain Jamaal Lascelles and wing-back Matt Ritchie back into the squad for the clash with Sean Dyche's men, with the pair having missed the 1-1 draw with Norwich through suspension.
And Howe says he has no fresh injury concerns ahead of the game, with defender Paul Dummett the only remaining absentee.
"Injury-wise, we've got a few bumps and bruises but hopefully nothing too serious," he confirmed. "Hopefully the squad's come through unscathed, and obviously we've got the two boys returning from suspension as well."
Howe's stint at Turf Moor between January 2011 and October 2012 was just his second job in management, with successful spells at Bournemouth sandwiching his time in Lancashire.
Dyche was appointed as his permanent successor and has since guided the Clarets to two promotions from the Championship, as well as establishing them in the top flight and qualifying for European competition.
While Howe spoke warmly of his time at Burnley, he reiterated the importance of securing a victory at the weekend – a win which could move Newcastle to within three points of safety.
"I've got nothing but admiration for Sean, the job that he's done at Burnley and for the football club," he said.
"There are amazing people there that I met in my time with Burnley. It's a really great club full of amazing people, and a very good group of players who have done very well for Sean now for a long, long period of time.
"I think the job that he's done cannot be underestimated. For the length of time, the longevity that he’s had and the success that he's had, full credit to him, because I know how difficult that is. It will be good to see him at the weekend, but obviously we need to make sure we get the result that we need."