Howe 'looking forward' to first game in home dugout
Written by Luke Vinton
Eddie Howe admitted he is relishing the prospect of his first home match in charge of Newcastle United ahead of the Magpies' Premier League visit of Norwich City on Tuesday evening.
United host Dean Smith's Canaries at St. James' Park (kick-off 7.30pm GMT), aiming to leapfrog last season's Championship winners with a first victory of the 2021/22 campaign.
Howe, who celebrates his 44th birthday today, was unable to attend Newcastle's thrilling 3-3 draw against Brentford after testing positive for Covid-19 but, now fully recovered from the virus, is eagerly awaiting to take charge of his first match on home soil.
"I'm looking forward to that experience," Howe said. Whenever you go to a ground, the away experience is very different to the home one.
"I loved coming to St. James' Park as an opposition manager and thought it was a fantastic arena to watch football in, sampling the atmosphere.
"To have the home supporters with us will be an amazing, unique experience and a one I can't wait to sample."
Newcastle will be without club captain Jamaal Lascelles and Matt Ritchie for Tuesday's clash after the defensive duo both picked up their fifth yellow cards of the term during Saturday's 2-0 defeat at Arsenal.
Howe, though, believes this will provide options for other members of the squad, whom he revealed he has been unable to see enough of after his period of isolation.
"We have the two suspensions," the Amersham-born coach added. "They're going to be big misses for us with the experience they have but I don't think there is any fresh injuries from Saturday.
"There's going to be opportunities. When you have suspensions or injuries, it's a disappointment for those players involved but an opportunity for someone else which is good for us to see the squad because there's some I've seen little of in my time here due to various reasons.
"I'm confident whoever comes in will give a very good account of themselves for the team."
Newcastle, currently six points adrift of the drop zone, also face Burnley on Saturday afternoon, with Howe admitting it has been a heavy load of preparation for taking on their fellow relegation rivals.
United's head coach, however, remains fully focussed on the task ahead but is not allowing himself to think too far in advance.
"It's been a very busy time, with three games in a week coming up, so a really busy few days for us," he said. "We're looking forward to the challenges that we face this week.
"We're aware how important these games are but I think it's a dangerous thing to look too far ahead. Firstly, I'm looking at training today and then of course tomorrow's game. It's always a step-by-step process.
"The minute you start looking too far ahead, you can take your eye off the priorities. The priorities right now are the players and preparing them as best we can for the next game.
"We know it's going to be a really tough game. We cannot underestimate Norwich in any way. Any Premier League game is incredibly tough to win so we know we'll have to be at our very best."
After his absence from United's six-goal encounter against Brentford, Howe was in attendance for his first game in the United dugout on Saturday against Arsenal.
Impressed by his side's attacking options, particularly against the Bees, the former centre-back took plenty of positives from the previous two matches whilst addressing the issues he bids to improve on.
"Going back to our last home game, the amount of chances we created with over 20 shots, I thought we looked a good attacking threat. There were moments the other way that weren't so stable but I saw enough from it as an attacking side to know we can create and score goals and I saw the same at Arsenal.
"I wouldn't necessarily say we created clear cut chances but we created enough in the game away from home against a really tough opponent to know that we will be in games from an attacking perspective.
"We have to improve the defensive side of the game and that's everyone connected with the team. I thought there were positive signs albeit in defeat.
"We know we can't keep saying that and have to turn these small margins that are costing us games the other way but I'm sure we can do it."