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New boy Wood 'ready to play', reveals Howe

Newcastle United boss Eddie Howe has confirmed that new signing Chris Wood will be part of his squad for Saturday's crucial Premier League clash with Watford at St. James' Park (3pm kick-off).

United face the Hornets on Tyneside hoping for a win which would see them leapfrog Claudio Ranieri's side, who currently sit in 17th position – two points and two places above the Magpies.

New Zealand frontman Wood joined from Burnley on Thursday, becoming the club's second signing of the January transfer window after the arrival of Kieran Trippier from Atlético Madrid last week.

And with leading goalscorer Callum Wilson sidelined through injury, head coach Howe revealed that his latest recruit would go straight into contention for a United debut this weekend.

"We're really pleased with the signing of Chris. I think he'll fit in really well with the team. He's experienced, he's ready to play, and he's done very well historically for Burnley," he said.

"He knows the Premier League and I think he gives us something a little bit different to what we have. I think all those qualities mixed together mean it's a really powerful signing for us."

Watford, along with bottom club Norwich City, have the worst recent record in the top flight, losing their last six games.

A victory over Ranieri's men could be enough to lift the Magpies out of the bottom three, and Howe is keen for his charges to approach the contest with the requisite will to win as they bid to haul themselves clear of the relegation zone and banish any lingering memories of last week's FA Cup exit at the hands of Cambridge United.

"We're going in to win the game. The players, everybody connected with the club, was disappointed with last week," he said. "We were keen to build momentum from what was an outstanding performances against Manchester United, but we didn't do that. We were frustrated with ourselves.

"But now we look forward to Watford. We have to move forward – that's the future. We've regrouped, we've discussed what went wrong, and we're going to try and put it right tomorrow. The players are determined to do that, and we're very focused on achieving our best performance."

Howe also provided an update on the fitness of two of his defenders and confirmed that while there are no fresh serious injury concerns, Covid-19 continues to affect the United squad.

"We've got a few Covid cases in the camp. We have testing today so fingers crossed no-one succumbs there," he added.

"We've got Jamal Lewis edging closer to a return, Paul Dummett is edging closer to a return and a few knocks and niggles flying around, but nothing too serious."

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Eddie Howe's pre-Watford media briefing in full

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