'Ridiculous' - Eddie Howe hits back at Dan Burn suggestion amid Newcastle United £45m dilemma

Newcastle United defender Dan Burn (left) and head coach Eddie Howe (right). (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)Newcastle United defender Dan Burn (left) and head coach Eddie Howe (right). (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Newcastle United defender Dan Burn (left) and head coach Eddie Howe (right). (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe is set to decide between Dan Burn and Tino Livramento as to who starts at left-back against Nottingham Forest.

Newcastle United boss Eddie Howe has hit back at suggestions that he doesn't play players on merit after fans voiced their frustrations at the decision to persist with Dan Burn over Tino Livramento at left-back during last Saturday's 4-4 draw at home to Luton Town.

The rapid pace of Luton winger Chiedozie Ogbene resulted in a nightmare afternoon for Burn last time out after he conceded a penalty that Carlton Morris converted to make it 3-2 before being out of position when Elijah Adebayo put the Hatters 4-2 up moments later.

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United supporters chanted "Tino, Tino" for Livramento to replace Burn, which he did in the 64th minute as goals from Kieran Trippier and substitute Harvey Barnes rescued a point for the Magpies.

Howe is set to decide between Burn and Livramento when his side travel to Nottingham Forest on Saturday evening (kick-off 5:30pm) - and he insists whatever decision he makes will be based on merit, rather than last season's achievements.

Dermot Gallagher has given his view on Luton Town's penalty against Newcastle United.Dermot Gallagher has given his view on Luton Town's penalty against Newcastle United.
Dermot Gallagher has given his view on Luton Town's penalty against Newcastle United.

'it's always about merit'

“It's always about merit," said Howe. "No part of me gives a starting berth to a player based on what they did last year, that would be ridiculous. It has to be based on what I see every day in training, and of course taking into account the games."

Howe then went on to launch a staunch of Burn, who joined from Brighton for £13million two years ago, saying: “You have to remember, Dan broke his back not so long ago, came back early for the benefit of the team and we were only too keen to welcome him back because we'd missed his presence in the team, so he's earned his place back.

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"He showed tremendous courage to come back way ahead of schedule because you could see the team needed him. He has played in a little bit of discomfort, especially in the first couple of games. He has got through that and I think he is on his way to feeling really good again. 

"You also have to remember he has chipped in with important goals this season. He has done really well from that perspective. I know I said the other day how important he is from set plays and how important that phase of the game is and it is often underestimated. That can win and lose you games. “Three games ago, he scored against Fulham and against Aston Villa, he was made Man of the Match. As always in football, you're judged on the last few seconds. That's how it's always been and that's how it has to be."

'Dan has been a huge player for us'

Howe also said: "I understand that [criticism] happens, that’s football - everyone has an opinion. Dan has been such a big player for us in loads of different ways and I tried to say that after the game. He’s pivotal to how we play in lots of different ways without giving too many tactical things away. And that’s why he was such a big miss when we lost him through injury.

"He’s also a huge leader, a very big presence physically but also vocally, and that leadership can’t be underestimated. He’s been an incredible signing for me, much better than I could have hoped really in a sense that when we brought him in we were in a dire situation.

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"He was one of the players that helped galvanised the group and he’s still doing that on a daily basis. I can’t speak highly enough of him. That doesn’t guarantee him a place in the team, of course but, it’s just to understand his qualities. He’s been a huge player for us."

What about Tino?

Newcastle signed Livramento from Southampton last summer in a deal worth an initial £32million. The 21-year-old is viewed as a long-term replacement for Kieran Trippier at right-back but has played most of his games at left-back whilst Burn recovered from a back injury.

Burn made his comeback as a substitute in the 2-1 defeat to AC Milan on December 13, and since then, Livramento has only started three times.

"I’m the biggest fan of Tino that there can be," declared Howe. “He’s an outstanding player and that’s why I fought so hard to sign him. A real talent, athletically very good and of course, his best years are ahead of him.

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"His primary position is right-back and he’s fighting with Kieran and we’ve spoken at length about Kieran’s qualities and what he brings to the team. But he will get his time and he will, hopefully, play a lot of games for this football club.

"I do love him at left-back as well, I think he’s done extremely well there when you consider that isn’t his strongest side. I think he’s been incredible in that position as well."

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