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We have to match Leeds' intensity, says Howe

Newcastle United boss Eddie Howe wants his players to match Leeds United's intensity when they take on Marcelo Bielsa's side on Saturday (3pm kick-off).

The Magpies could move out of the relegation zone with a win in Yorkshire depending on other results, though they face a Leeds side who have improved in recent weeks and beat West Ham away in their last outing.

And head coach Howe believes Bielsa and his charges pose a "unique" challenge for his side, one which can’t be replicated by other teams, as he bids to steer United to victory at Elland Road.

"I think they have a way of playing and they follow that. There's a lot to admire about Leeds' out-of-possession work. It's really intriguing," he said.

"They play with a really high intensity, and we have to match that. With the ball, they've got their set patterns and way of playing and it's very, very effective.

"This is a totally unique game – I think there's no other game like Leeds in the Premier League – and we have to be ready for what we're going to face."

Leeds' win at the London Stadium last weekend moved them ten points clear of Newcastle and lifted them to 15th place in the table – nine points clear of third bottom, the final relegation spot.

Howe – who will be looking to secure a first win of 2022 for the Magpies – says he is looking forward to locking horns with the celebrated Argentinian manager Bielsa for the first time.

"I think he's one of the best managers in world football, for me," said Howe.

"He's got a very unique idea and it is slightly different to the norm. I think anyone that has those strong beliefs and is slightly different has my full respect, because he's also been successful and he's brought his idea and his identity to many different clubs.

"I've watched quite a bit of him over the years – not live, but as a student of the game I've watched quite a bit of his work. I really enjoy his ideas and how he takes elements of the game and really breaks them down, and coaches his players in the specifics, getting the details across to them. I've got a lot of respect for him."

United received some encouraging news on the injury front this week, with defender Jamal Lewis stepping up his return from the hamstring injury he suffered at Liverpool in December.

The Northern Ireland international is back in training along with experienced duo Dwight Gayle and Jeff Hendrick, but Howe says there is a question mark over the fitness of another of his first-teamers ahead of Saturday’s trip.

"We're not too bad – a couple of players have returned to the training ground. Dwight Gayle we've had back in training this week, Jeff Hendrick's returned to training this week," he said.

"Matt Ritchie's got a knee problem so we'll have to assess how he is, and of course we're missing the long-termers – Fede Fernández, Callum Wilson and Isaac Hayden."

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