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Imagine what Newcastle United can achieve with fully-fit Isak and Barnes alongside Gordon

Eddie Howe has had to deal with so many injuries this season, so we're only just starting to see how good this forward line can be

It will be fascinating to see if a visit to the Palace sparks another royal show from Newcastle's vibrant attacking trio. Anthony Gordon, Alexander Isak, and Harvey Barnes were sensational when destroying Tottenham's high line with their relentless pace.

It made me wonder what might have been had they stayed fit all season, if a testing campaign might yet end in European reward, and what might come to pass 2024-25. While Gordon has somehow remained upright under relentless physical challenge, only missing a couple of games through suspension, both Isak and especially Barnes have fallen foul to injuries.

Goals are what win games of course and Isak has weighed in with 21 so far from 30 starts and four sub appearances, Gordon has reached double figures for the first time in his career with 11 from 40+3, while Barnes has four goals in a meagre five starts and 12 visits from the bench. That is a terrific present and the most promising of futures. Isak and Gordon are enjoying the best season of their careers no question and Barnes has given us a glimpse of what might be next time.

When everyone is fit - will that ever be the case at United - Jacob Murphy is a quality impact sub while Miggy Almiron, who has served faithfully in good times and bad, may have to be surrendered in the summer as part of a financial juggling act.

The impact of Gordon, Isak and Barnes is heightened by the fact that they are inter changeable, they are not restricted to a rigid role. All can play as a No 9 through the middle and all can play out wide on the tramlines. They were bought by the new regime and their manager because they are fluid making it easier for each to fit into the Eddie Howe preferred style of play.

With the magic wand that is the passing foot of Bruno Guimaraes and the long range targeted missiles of Fabian Schar United are set up to be ultra effective on any good day.

Of course Crystal Palace will be a tricky fixture - there are not many away matches in the PL that finish with a scoreline of Sheffield United 0-8 Newcastle United. However surely the Magpies will not waste a revival that has brought a harvest of 10 points out of the last 12 and hope that a season threatening to peter out because of mass injuries can have a glorious finale.

Get the business done here and next up are The Doomed hurtling towards relegation - Sheff U at St James' Park on Saturday and a visit to Burnley to renew acquaintances with our one-time enfant terrible Craig Bellamy.

Who will be available after a nice long rest and, just as important, who will not? Only Howe knows and as usual he won't give away too much beforehand just a few crumbs will fall from the table. Callum Wilson may at last return to the bench but anyone else?

United's missing persons list has been ridiculous. If we wonder what might have been had Gordon, Isak and Barnes been able to play in a three all season what if Nick Pope had been an ever present? What if Joelinton had remained an awesome midfield force? If Sven Botman had been at his ruthless best instead of a hobbling shadow? If Sean Longstaff and Joe Willock not been carrying. If Kieran Trippier had maintained early season form and fitness. If Elliot Anderson had been allowed to fulfill his pre-season promise. If Wilson had been regularly raring to go as a super sub.

The only plus to all those minuses is that we were given a glimpse of the potential a 17-year-old, Lewis Miley, has to brighten our futures . . . until he got got himself injured as well!

In all of that I haven't even mentioned that as yet we still don't know for certain what United's £52m signing Sandro Tonali will bring to the party. A fab scoring start against Aston Villa was followed by some teething problems and an uneasy feeling that he wasn't altogether settled in either his new surroundings or tactical formation.

May he have spent his exile fruitfully learning a new language, getting to be close to his team-mates, and realising how much both club and fans want him to succeed. Gratitude can help him greatly. In the meantime United are in the final throes of defying the odds heightened by the missing persons roll call. It is crystal clear what we want at the Palace - another miracle.


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