Trippier and Wilson pushing to start against Arsenal, says Howe
Written by Tom Easterby
Eddie Howe revealed fit-again duo Kieran Trippier and Callum Wilson are in contention to start against Arsenal on Monday night – but the Newcastle United boss says he hasn't yet decided whether the England duo will line up against the Gunners at St. James' Park (8pm kick-off).
The Magpies' final home game of the campaign sees them take on Mikel Arteta's men, who are still in pursuit of a place in the Champions League.
Trippier and Wilson made their long-awaited returns from injury in last weekend’s defeat at Manchester City, with the pair making cameo appearances as second half substitutes.
And head coach Howe says he will assess both players in training before deciding on his starting 11 for Newcastle's penultimate Premier League fixture of a remarkable 2021/22 season.
"I think both players would say they would be very keen to start. I think my job is to try and make sure I'm doing the best thing, not just for the individual, but for the team as well," he said.
"We've got to make sure they're fit enough and physically good enough to last a long period in the game, as obviously I cant be making too many changes too early in the match as it will unbalance the team.
"You can’t group them together and say they're at the same stage – Callum has done more training work than Kieran, and of course he sustained a more serious injury than Kieran as well. We'll make a decision based on the training week as to whether they start the game or not."
Arsenal currently occupy fourth spot in the table, putting them in pole position for a return to Europe’s premier competition next term.
Howe believes his opposite number Arteta has done a fine job since succeeding Unai Emery in the Emirates Stadium in 2019.
"I think sometimes with trying to judge how a manager has performed, it's very, very difficult, because results don't always tell the whole story," he said.
"The biggest compliment I can give Mikel is that he's seen a big transition of players and a big transition of playing style, and he's managed to do that while getting consistent results, which is very, very difficult to do.
"They now have I think one of the youngest teams in the Premier League, and the future looks very bright there, so full credit to him and his staff and his players for what he’s done."
Results elsewhere in midweek helped to confirm United's top flight status for another year – a feat that looked improbable when Howe took charge back in November.
And the former Bournemouth boss paid tribute to his players and staff whose efforts enabled Newcastle to pull off a sensational escape act.
"It's an amazing feeling. It's very difficult to comment when you feel potentially you might have enough points, but it’s not mathematically certain. You're always wary of making false statements that turn out to be incorrect, so it's great to finally have achieved the objective that we set out to do," he said.
"Full credit to the players, who from minute one have given us everything, and everyone associated with the club has played their part in what has been a remarkable turnaround in form, really, which we needed. To have two games spare to do it in is not something we thought we'd be able to have, but it's great to be in this position."