Eddie Howe says selection headaches are a “brilliant thing” to have at Newcastle United.
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Almost the entirety of Howe’s squad is available for Saturday’s long journey to Bournemouth, something that has proven a rarity for the Newcastle boss.
All of Alexander Isak, Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin have missed chunks of the campaign, while Jonjo Shelvey’s injury and subsequent exit meant Joelinton has largely played out on the left all season.
Such issues, however, appear to be ending.
While Bruno Guimaraes is suspended for Saturday’s game and Emil Krafth and Matt Targett are injured, Howe has almost every player to choose from for his first visit to the Vitality Stadium since his departure in 2020.
What has Howe said about team selection?
Speaking at Friday’s pre-match press conference, Howe said (via The Chronicle): “That is a brilliant thing for a manager to have, I never look at that negatively although the decisions can be tough, choosing two players for one position you love.
“That’s the difficult side of management but I’d much rather have that problem, the squad needs to be big enough and strong enough for a long campaign.”
What are the major calls Howe has to make?
Defensively, Newcastle are in little need of change given their sterling record this season. The lack of numbers in midfield, meanwhile, hardly offer much chance to change things up and, again, there is little need to.
Up front, however, the situation is somewhat different.
Callum Wilson did score against West Ham but has hardly been in the best form since returning from the World Cup. Club-record signing Isak offers an interesting alternative and will surely be pushing for a start soon, particularly given Wilson’s injury record.
Then there’s Allan Saint-Maximin. Howe has insisted the Frenchman remains a big part of his plans, although the January signing of Anthony Gordon increases the competition for places. Fail to impress on the south coast and it’ll be fascinating to see where Saint-Maximin features in the pecking order.
Still, having so many options going forward can only be a good thing in the race to qualify for next season’s Champions League.