There’s been some good and bad team news emerging from both camps ahead of tomorrow’s clash with Aston Villa at St James’ Park.
The big concern is that a calf injury picked up by Kieran Trippier could keep him out of this one, with Howe revealing that he’ll have to make a ‘late call’ on the full-back.
It’s also worth noting that he was nowhere to be seen in the club’s official training pictures on Friday. That’s never a great sign, so fingers crossed he can pass a late fitness test on Sunday.
Elsewhere, Matt Targett is ineligible to face his parent club due to the terms of the loan agreement, however Aston Villa will be missing a few key players themselves.
As for Villa, in-form Argentinian Emi Buendia is a ‘serious doubt’ according to Steve Gerrard. He took a whack in their 3-3 draw with Leeds on Wednesday night, while first choice centre-back Ezri Konsa is suspended after being sent off.
Phillipe Coutinho has been passed fit to play by Gerrard, despite limping off in midweek, while Eddie Howe has confirmed that Callum Wilson, Federico Fernandez, Paul Dummett and Matt Ritchie remain out.
Here’s what Howe told the press when asked for some early team news:
“We don’t think it’s a long term injury but we’ll have to make a late call on him [Trippier].
“It would be a big blow to lose him.
“No other new injury concerns.
“We, obviously, have the long-term injuries, but Paul Dummett is getting closer to being fit.”
“Fede Fernandez is making progress but still hasn’t trained with the group.
“We’ve got a decision to make at left back [with Targett out] – it’s not an easy one.
“Dan Burn is an option for us and it’s great that I’ve got a couple of options in that position.
“Manquillo has done really well at left-back – he came on against Leeds and made a huge impact.”
“Guimaraes is ready to play.
“He’s shown all the technical qualities that we love about him in training already but it’s a case of managing the group and making sure I make the right selections.
“I thought the midfield balance against Everton was really good.”
So, one of Burn or Manquillo at left-back if Trippier is fit and both to start down either flank if the England international fails a late fitness test?
As for Guimaraes, it’s anyone’s guess. Howe will be tempted to hand him his first start, yet he also seems reluctant to unsettle a winning team that beat Everton 3-1 on Tuesday…