Eddie Howe has confirmed both Jonjo Shelvey and Allan Saint-Maximin are in contention to feature at Southampton on Sunday.
The pair made brief cameos in the 4-0 win over Aston Villa last weekend after injury-hit campaigns thus far, offering a real boost as Newcastle attempt to keep their momentum running before the break for the World Cup.
While it’s unclear if either are ready to start, merely having more options is a major plus for Howe, who has had to deal with a number of fitness issues during the first half of the season.
Joelinton, however, is suspended. As a result, it seems likely Bruno Guimaraes will continue in the midfield three with Sean Longstaff and Joe Willock, with potentially Jacob Murphy coming into the frontline, should neither Saint-Maximin or Shelvey be risked from the start.
Such is the confidence Newcastle are playing with, there does not appear to be any real need to rush players back, as Howe eluded to himself during Friday’s pre-match press conference.
Of Shelvey, Howe said: “This has been his second full week of training so he’s in a better place but without that match exposure. We want to protect him and try to see him through to the break.”
When speaking about Saint-Maximin, the head coach has previously said (via the Shields Gazette): “Maxi’s got a very slight irritation of his hamstring. On its own, that would be probably a few days out, but, because it’s the third time he’s done it, we’re going to have to be very careful with his return to play.”
While the Frenchman is back from that blow, it would not seem in keeping with Howe’s comments to take risks.
Newcastle United XI vs Southampton (4-3-3): Pope; Trippier, Schar, Botman, Burn; Guimaraes, Longstaff, Willock; Almiron, Wilson, Murphy
Injured: Emil Krafth, Alexander Isak