Newcastle United's hidden injury concern as key man undergoes treatment after £55m duo ruled out

Sean Longstaff of Newcastle United reacts during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge on March 11, 2024 in London, England.Sean Longstaff of Newcastle United reacts during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge on March 11, 2024 in London, England.
Sean Longstaff of Newcastle United reacts during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge on March 11, 2024 in London, England.
Eddie Howe has revealed the Newcastle United midfielder isn't fully fit after coming under criticism from supporters.

Sean Longstaff has been playing through the pain barrier for Newcastle United as Eddie Howe defended the midfielder following the criticism surrounding his recent display.

According to Howe, Longstaff still feeling the effects of the foot injury he sustained in the 4-1 win at Everton just under 12 months ago. The 26-year-old last week had an injection in order to take to the field for Monday's 3-2 defeat at Chelsea.

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Since returning from four games out with ankle injury in December, Longstaff has started every match since, and Magpies fans have gradually noticed a dip in his performance levels. But Howe has defended Longstaff, revealing he is playing through injury for the benefit of the team.

Sean Longstaff of Newcastle United reacts during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge on March 11, 2024 in London, England.Sean Longstaff of Newcastle United reacts during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge on March 11, 2024 in London, England.
Sean Longstaff of Newcastle United reacts during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge on March 11, 2024 in London, England.

“Sean needs to train regularly to get his best rhythm and that’s been disrupted due to an ongoing foot problem since Everton at the end of last season," Howe revealed.

"Last week he had an injection (to play) and trained late in the week, and that’s always difficult for any player when their training week is disrupted.

"Sean has had some really, really, good games for us this season and he’s a really important player because of his game intelligence and his understanding of what we want from him is of the highest level. I back him and his ability, I know how good he is.

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"He’s integral to us when he’s at his very best but I do think he needs to train regularly to get his best rhythm.”

Longstaff has started 17 consecutive matches and in only one of those has he failed to complete a full match. Asked if that was the best approach for the player and the team, a spiky Howe said: "Because we've had no other midfielders to play.

"I would have rested Sean for sure during this period but I've also got to look after Lewy [Miley], he's 17 years old. Elliot Anderson hasn't been available, Sandro [Tonali] hasn't been available, I've had no one else to play."

So does Longstaff need a rest? "He would probably say no because every player wants to play," Howe replied. "Every player wants to step on the pitch and say 'I'm fit' but myself, I would have managed him and looked after him. He hasn't been 100% fit, he's played through pain and that deserves acknowledgement."

Longstaff is likely to retain his place in the starting XI when Newcastle visit Manchester City in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup on Saturday evening.

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