Eddie Howe reveals ‘difficult’ £38m Newcastle United selection decision

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Eddie Howe still faces a number of selection dilemmas ahead of next Saturday’s trip to Manchester City (kick-off 8pm).

Eddie Howe has explained his decision to start Anthony Gordon ahead of £38million summer signing Harvey Barnes for Newcastle United’s Premier League opener against Aston Villa.

Both players made an impact as the Magpies recorded a 5-1 win over Unai Emery’s Villa. Gordon claimed an assist for Sandro Tonali’s opener, while Barnes scored and set up Callum Wilson after being introduced for Gordon in the 68th minute.

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“It was a difficult choice between him and Anthony, I probably based that on the time that Harvey has been with, as it has been short,” said Howe. “His time will come, he will get loads of football this year.

Harvey Barnes of Newcastle United celebrates with teammates after scoring the team's fifth goal during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Aston Villa at St. James Park on August 12, 2023 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)Harvey Barnes of Newcastle United celebrates with teammates after scoring the team's fifth goal during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Aston Villa at St. James Park on August 12, 2023 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Harvey Barnes of Newcastle United celebrates with teammates after scoring the team's fifth goal during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Aston Villa at St. James Park on August 12, 2023 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images) | Getty Images

“Anthony has been here from pretty much day one of pre-season and he has been excellent. It was good to see him assist the first goal then Harvey’s pace gave them a real problem in the second half and he scored too.”

Howe reflected on the depth of his squad. As well as introducing Barnes, the Magpies’ head coach also had the likes of Callum Wilson, Sean Longstaff, Jacob Murphy, Elliot Anderson £30million signing Tino Livramento available from the bench.

“We need the strongest bench we can get this year with the amount of games we have, competitions we are in,” Howe added. “It was certainly a difficult day yesterday, to name the team. It certainly wasn’t easy. The weren’t easy decisions to make, but were ones I had to make. You just hope the team performs and you get the benefit of that.

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“I have to compliment the players on their fitness levels, I thought we looked really strong, stronger at the end and that’s testament to what they’ve given during the summer.”

Next up for Howe’s men is a trip to Premier League champions Manchester City on Saturday (kick-off 8pm).

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