NEWCASTLE: Eddie Howe is finally set to make his Newcastle United managerial debut at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium on Saturday after testing negative for COVID-19.
The head coach missed last week’s Premier League encounter with Brentford, which ended in a 3-3 draw, having tested positive the previous evening. His assistant Jason Tindall and coach Graeme Jones took charge of that game.
However, the club have now confirmed on Twitter that ex-Bournemouth boss Howe is ready to take the helm for a competitive game.
“Newcastle United can confirm that Eddie Howe will be in the dugout for tomorrow’s game at the Emirates Stadium after returning a negative COVID test this morning,” the club announced on Friday.
It had been expected Howe would miss the trip in line with UK COVID-19 protocols, which state that anyone who returns a positive test must self-isolate for 10 days from the date of the test or from the date that symptoms first appeared.
Arab News understands that Howe and the club’s medical staff traced the symptoms back to midway through last week, around the time Howe was publicly unveiled as Newcastle’s new manager, and confirmed that he has satisfied all relevant rules for return to work with the relevant governing bodies this week.
Tindall, speaking about Howe at the club’s pre-match press conference, said: “We know COVID impacts people differently. And he is much better now than he was.
“From how Eddie was Sunday, Monday, Tuesday in comparison to how he is feeling now, and the tone of his voice in the latter part of this week, there’s been a big difference. He’s followed all the protocols. It’s down to Eddie and the medical professionals. Everyone that knows Ed wants to be in the dugout (at Arsenal). Even if he was 20 percent, he’d want to be there, that’s for sure. We’re certainly looking forward to having him back.”
Logistically the week has been a challenge for Tindall, also a former manager of Bournemouth, with Howe holed up in his Gateshead Quayside hotel room.
Daily training videos have been sent from the club’s Benton training ground to the hotel and the phone lines have been hot with chatter between Howe and his numerous coaches.
“In terms of dialogue, we have been in constant contact with the manager,” Tindall said. “Maybe four, five, six times a day — before training, after, then in the evening preparing training for the next day.
“The lads have been working extremely hard on the training ground,” he added.
Of his close friend Howe’s struggles this week, Tindall said: “It has been difficult having the virus, having to isolate in a hotel room. We have missed him as a group of staff and I am sure the players will have missed him out on the grass. You want your leader with you and the fans want the manager on the touchline. Eddie is a very ‘hands-on’ coach, and he has played a huge part in the preparation for Arsenal.”
Howe has a near-full squad to choose from for the game, with only Dwight Gayle and Paul Dummett doubts.
“Dwight Gayle was feeling his hamstring slightly so that’s one that will be assessed,” said Tindall. “Other than that there’s been no new injury concerns for us with a training session still to do today.”