Newcastle United will host Manchester City in the third round of the Carabao Cup tomorrow night and Eddie Howe has delivered some disappointing team news ahead of the clash.
The Magpies have had a mixed start to their Premier League campaign, however, in their most recent fixture against Sheffield United proved they are very much still competing to earn a spot inside the top four this season.
Howe’s ambitious side secured an 8-0 win at Bramall Lane on Sunday afternoon, which concluded as a Premier League record-breaking achievement for the North East giants who had eight different goal-scorers delivering the three points away from home.
The Newcastle squad will have had little time to reflect on their monumental victory as they have been back in training to prepare for their upcoming meeting with treble-winning Man City in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday evening.
With the Champions League group stages well underway and Premier League fixtures coming thick and fast, the Newcastle boss has been comfortably rotating his impressive squad to ensure exhaustion doesn’t creep in, recovery time is adequate and players get their opportunities at game time.
However, Howe is now facing his first significant blow of the 2023/24 season with Harvey Barnes set to be out for months due to a freak foot injury sustained in the game against Sheffield United.
The former Bournemouth boss took to his pre-match press conference today to deliver the verdict on the winger’s situation:
“It’s an injury to a part of the foot just below the toe, I think it’s quite a substantial injury,”
“We’ve had it scanned, we’re waiting now for a specialist’s opinion on what to do next, whether there’s surgery involved or not. I don’t want to put a time on it until we get confirmation from the specialist, but I think it will be months rather than weeks.”
“There’s no doubt he’ll be disappointed because he was very keen to show his value and worth, and Sunday was an opportunity to do that. But whatever the injury is, we’ll support him and we know he’s a top quality player and he still has a massive part to play.”
Our verdict on Harvey Barnes’ injury blow…
There is no doubt that Howe will be disappointed not to have his newly-signed winger available to start at St James’ Park tomorrow night, as the three-game weeks can prove to be difficult when managing player fitness, especially when a squad is not used to such intensity.
In terms of players capable to play on the left flank in his position, the Newcastle boss has few options to lean on after the sale of Allan Saint-Maximin in the summer, whilst Joelinton is still in recovery for a knee injury and not expected back until the West Ham United game on October 8th.
As a result, it will be left to Anthony Gordon to take on the important role in the final third, which shouldn’t be too much to ask of the 22-year-old who has been thriving and improving ever since he swapped Merseyside for Tyneside in January.
Over six Premier League appearances so far this season, Gordon has delivered two goals, registered two assists and created five big chances, as well as averaging 1.3 key passes, 1.7 successful dribbles, 1.8 tackles and a whopping 6.3 duels won per game, according to SofaScore, proving that he is an influential presence in the attacking threat.
With that being said, the blow to Barnes will be a real headache for Howe in terms of his ability to rotate the squad over a congested schedule, however, if Gordon can stay fit during that time then the left winger role is undoubtedly in safe hands during his absence.