As per Newcastle World, the 44-year-old insisted that there is a chance that at least two of Bruno Guimaraes, Allan Saint-Maximin and Callum Wilson could be available for next weekend’s clash with West Ham United, with the trio having all been absent against Patrick Vieira’s side.
Speaking after the 0-0 draw with the Eagles, the Englishman said of the three stricken Magpies men: “Hopefully, they’re not going to be far away. Maybe not all three together but certainly hope to get a couple back soon.”
The former Bournemouth manager had revealed prior to that meeting at St James’ Park that both Guimaraes and Saint-Maximin were “close” to a return, albeit with compatriot Wilson still “slightly behind” that pair.
With a week to rest and recover ahead of the trip to the London Stadium next Sunday, it could well allow ample time for those injured figures to make a return, with it no doubt set to be a massive lift for the Tynesiders if at least a couple of those high profile names can be available against the Hammers.
In the case of Saint-Maximin, the Frenchman has once again been a driving force for the northeast side so far this season, notably laying on two assists in the thrilling 3-3 draw with Manchester City, while also firing in a stunning late equaliser in the clash with Wolverhampton Wanderers last weekend.
With quality options on the flanks already limited – having failed to land the likes of Jack Harrison and Moussa Diaby this summer – his absence from the side leaves a notable creative void, with his replacement Ryan Fraser having failed to register a single shot nor produce a solitary key pass in yesterday’s performance.
Equally, the centre of the park is also currently devoid of depth having lost Jonjo Shelvey to a long-term hamstring injury in pre-season, with Guimaraes’ recent stint on the sidelines only exacerbating the dearth of options.
The former Lyon man has become an instant hero for Newcastle since joining the club back in January, catching the eye with his all-action displays at the base of the midfield, notably scoring five league goals in just 17 games in the second half of last season.
His all-round, box-to-box quality is best showcased by the fact that he ranks in the top 7% for progressive carries and the top 9% for dribbles completed among those in his position across Europe’s top five leagues, while also ranking in the top 2% for tackles made and the top 8% for pressures.
Having been sidelined with a hamstring injury of late, the Brazilian has been replaced by Sean Longstaff in the starting XI, albeit with the academy graduate seemingly lacking the quality of his fellow teammate, notably ranking in only the bottom 4% for dribbles completed and the bottom 2% for progressive carries.
As for Wilson – who is also nursing a hamstring injury – the 30-year-old has been the main supply of goals in recent seasons, notably top-scoring for the club last term with eight in all competitions.
Although the addition of young Alexander Isak has potentially threatened his regular starting berth, the four-cap England international will be needed to provide stern competition for the newly-arrived 22-year-old, having already scored twice in just three games this season.
It is no doubt evident that the aforementioned trio are simply integral to the way Howe intends to play and also enhance the club’s likelihood of getting results, with the Magpies no doubt having an increased chance of getting all three points next weekend if those three men are available.