It’s hard to put into words just how important Saturday’s Premier League game at home to Watford is.
Eddie Howe might not have drastically improved results although many would surely admit performances (Cambridge, Leicester and Arsenal aside) have generally improved under his watch.
Still, all of that progress – particularly the kind evident in the draw against Manchester United just after Christmas – will count for nothing should they fail to overcome Claudio Ranieri’s side. With Burnley’s game against Leicester postponed, Newcastle can move away from the relegation zone with a win, albeit the Lancashire outfit do have plenty of games in hand.
To his credit, Howe did manage to overcome Burnley in the last game of this importance. The FA Cup result and the performance in general, however, was hugely concerning.
Ahead of the game, the Newcastle head coach has confirmed that both Paul Dummett and Jamal Lewis are edging closer to returns. Obviously, the Covid situation isn’t exactly clear at the moment although Howe did hint at a few cases, but new signings Chris Wood and Kieran Trippier are expected to play.
Elsewhere, Miguel Almiron, Allan Saint-Maximin, Fabian Scar and Jamaal Lascelles were all pictured in training.
Newcastle United predicted XI: Dubravka, Trippier, Schar, Lascelles, Ritchie, Shelvey, Willock, Joelinton, Saint-Maximin, Wood, Almiron
Kick-off: 3pm, Saturday January 15 2022, St James’ Park
Injured: Callum Wilson (calf), Isaac Hayden (knee)
Referee: Paul Tierney