Eddie Howe identifies ‘key spell’ approaching for his Newcastle United squad

Eddie Howe has described Newcastle United’s next nine games as ‘a key spell’ in their season.

The Magpies made their way into the international break sat in mid-table after collecting eight points from their opening seven games of the campaign.

There are conflicting views on how United have performed in the opening weeks of a highly-anticipated season.

The positive is that the Magpies have only lost one of those games and that came in heartbreaking circumstances with a late goal at Liverpool.

But Howe’s side remain without a league win since the opening day of the campaign when Fabian Schar and Callum Wilson scored in a 2-0 home victory against newly-promoted Nottingham Forest.

United have only taken a point from the remaining five fixtures, with last weekend’s 1-1 home draw against Bournemouth only increasing the feeling of frustration on Tyneside.

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An away day at Fulham is next on the agenda for Howe and his players as they face a schedule of nine games in 42 days before the Premier League takes a six-week break for the World Cup Finals.

Howe revealed what was asked of his players during the current international break and revealed the key areas he believes his side need to work on to improve on a mixed start to the season.

Speaking after the draw against Bournemouth, the Magpies boss said: “We’ll give them a little bit of time off at the beginning of the next week to allow them to regroup mentally as it’s a very busy period coming when we return.

“It’s going to be a key spell before the World Cup in how well we do before these next group of games.”

When asked what he would be looking to work on, Howe added: “I think it’s a combination of both things. We conceded a poor goal by our high standards today.

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“We’ve been very good defensively and we didn’t really give them a lot, so disappointed that they scored.

“The natural one is our attacking play. We’ve worked hard on that in the build-up to those game. There’s no surprise what we faced, we knew it was coming but we still didn’t do it well enough so a lot of work to do.”

Howe will hope for good news on injuries to Bruno Guimaraes, Alexander Isak and Allan Saint-Maximin over the coming days.

There should be one piece of positivity for the United boss as Callum Wilson looks set to return to his squad for the trip to Craven Cottage.