NEWCASTLE: Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe has cast doubt over the immediate return of England international defender Kieran Trippier.
Hopes were high that the January signing would be fit for next week’s visit of quadruple-chasing Liverpool to St James’ Park.
However, Howe has revealed the former Atletico Madrid man is unlikely to be involved as he continues his recovery from a broken foot.
When asked about Trippier, Howe said: “Not sure as we speak. I’d probably say no, off the top of my head, but we’ll wait and see.”
Trippier has been absent for United since the 1-0 home win over Aston Villa on Feb. 13.
It remains to be seen whether forward and top-scorer Callum Wilson will be back in contention for the Reds’ visit to Tyneside on Saturday, too.
Wilson has been unavailable since damaging his calf in the 1-1 home draw with Manchester United on Dec. 28.
Despite claiming another three points at Carrow Road in a Joelinton and Bruno Guimaraes-inspired win on Saturday, Howe is still refusing to state the Magpies are safe in their quest to remain in the Premier League.
The Magpies could be mathematically safe next weekend, should Burnley fail to win against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday and Newcastle beat second-placed Liverpool in the Premier League’s early kick-off next weekend.
“Are we mathematically safe? Then no,” Howe said with a smile when asked about United’s top-flight status. “When you look back at some of the days we had early on. The Cambridge defeat, the late equaliser Watford scored, they were difficult moments and we were a long, long way from where we are now.
“It’s taken an incredible effort from the players, staff and supporters to lift us to the position we’re in.
“I can’t thank everyone enough for what they’ve given me and the team.”
Having played three games in less than a week, Howe decided to make four changes to his side at Norwich.
And despite that, Howe thinks the players who were given their opportunity showed that this squad, even without summer additions, is more than capable of competing in the Premier League.
“Three games in six days. Norwich had a free week so we couldn’t come here lethargic, tired or mentally fatigued after the week we had — two tough home games where we had long spells without the ball. We needed fresh bodies — one or two players had a few niggles as well so we didn’t want to risk them,” said the head coach.
“I was really pleased with the guys that came in. I thought they refreshed the team and I thought we looked very good physically at certain points in the game,” said Howe. “Also, I think it’s healthy for the group to do that as well, it shows we do have a capable squad and that I’ve got options to choose from, plus competition for places as well which is absolutely vital.”
“The boost for us was the fact we came here off the back of a tough week and performed,” he added. “It would have been very easy for us to drop our levels today from a physical perspective but full credit to the players, they got another win and I’m delighted with them.”