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Newcastle wait on Alexander Isak and Callum Wilson fitness ahead of Man Utd trip

Newcastle strikers Alexander Isak and Callum Wilson are facing a race against time to be fit for Wednesday night’s crucial Premier League showdown with Manchester United.

The Magpies head for Old Trafford sitting sixth in the table, two places and three points better off than the hosts and knowing a positive result would mean Erik ten Hag’s men could not catch them on the final day of the campaign and that another season of European football would be tantalizingly close.

However, the in-form Isak, who had scored in each of his previous seven games at St James’ Park, was out of sorts in Saturday’s 1-1 home draw with Brighton and Wilson did not make the matchday squad with both having gone down with illness, and neither trained on Monday.

Asked about Isak, head coach Eddie Howe said at his press conference on Tuesday morning: “I don’t think it’s a serious illness. He didn’t train yesterday, so again we’ll see if he trains today. Fingers crossed, he will.

“But yes, he wasn’t feeling 100 per cent – I think you could see that. He’s been so good in recent weeks athletically as well as technically and all the goals that he’s scored. But we knew on Friday that he was slightly under the weather.”

On Wilson, he added: “We’ll see. We haven’t seen Callum yet, so we’ll see if he’s available to train today. If not, then I’m sure he’ll be fit for Brentford.”

England frontman Wilson has endured a frustrating season during which he has made just 25 appearances, 13 of them from the bench, but his 10 goals are an illustration of his enduring potency when he is fit.

Of course that forms part of your planning, it would be foolish for me to say otherwise.

Newcastle boss Eddie Howe

Injury problems – Wilson is three games into his return after missing 10 following surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle – have blighted him in recent seasons, and while acknowledging finding a replacement this summer could prove hugely expensive, Howe admitted that availability would be a consideration when assessing the 32-year-old’s future on Tyneside.

He said: “Of course that forms part of your planning, it would be foolish for me to say otherwise.

“Anthony Gordon can play as a striker, but you lose him from his winger position. We need a squad that can deal with all types of absentees and problems, which you’re going to get during a season. That is what we’ll try to build.

“But all I’ll say on that – and I’ll urge the word ‘caution’ – is that to sign strikers of the ability to score goals in the Premier League would cost you an awful lot of money. I have to get the balance right between doing that and exposing ourselves in other areas, where the money might need to go.”

In the shorter term, Howe and his players will concentrate on the task of trying to complete a first league double over Manchester United since the 1930-31 season, one Howe insists will prove far from straightforward despite Ten Hag’s much-publicised problems.

He said: “I still think it is a tough place to go and play football. It’s a great place to go and play football at the same time. We will try and look at it that way.”

Meanwhile, the Magpies have confirmed they will travel to Japan in pre-season to face Urawa Red Diamonds at the Saitama Stadium on July 31 and Yokohama F. Marinos at the Japan National Stadium three days later.


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