Eddie Howe is facing big decisions over Fabian Schar and Alexander Isak ahead of Newcastle United’s home game with Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday.
Swiss defender Schar was absent from the Magpies starting lineup in Saturday’s defeat at Manchester City after suffering a head injury in the Carabao Cup Final loss against Manchester United six days earlier. That means United club captain Jamaal Lascelles earned only his second league start of the season and his first since he appeared alongside Dan Burn in a controversial 2-1 defeat at Liverpool back in August.
With Schar likely to be back in contention for this weekend’s meeting with Julen Lopetegui’s side, Howe has given an insight into the process being followed with the former Deportivo la Coruna centre-back.
Speaking after the defeat at the Etihad Stadium, the Magpies manager said: “Fabian took a nasty knock to his eye. He had a nasty cut and bruise around that area. He did some tests with the doctor during the week, so quite early in the week, he wasn’t going to be available to play. I don’t think Fabian’s history is part of my thinking, but the doctor who has been with us a long period of time knows Fabian’s history. That’s all taken into account with the concussion protocol, which we will follow to the letter.”
Howe also has a major call to make at the opposite end of the pitch after club record signing Alexander Isak showed plenty of promise in substitute appearances against both Manchester clubs in recent weeks. Callum Wilson was handed a start in both games but failed to make an impact and found the net just once in 14 appearances in all competitions since the end of October.
There have been some suggestions Sweden international Isak could be handed only his sixth Premier League start when Wolves travel to St James Park - and Howe has admitted he has been pleased with the impact he has made in recent substitute appearances.
Asked if the striker’s performances had given him food for thought, he said: “Yeah, certainly it does. I think he’s growing and learning and developing all the time. I was pleased with his introduction, I was pleased with all the subs’ impact when they came on today. That’s a good sign for the future for us.”