This is why Matt Targett hasn’t started a game for Newcastle United since last month

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Dan Burn’s solid displays at left-back has kept Matt Targett out of Newcastle United’s starting XI in recent games.

Eddie Howe has revealed why Dan Burn has started ahead of Matt Targett at left-back in recent weeks. Blyth-born Burn has featured more times as a full-back than as a centre-half this campaign, although the former isn’t viewed as his natural position, despite playing a lot of his career there.

Targett barely trained in the build-up to the Fulham game earlier this month due to illness, so Burn got the nod and played his part in a dominant 4-1 victory. Howe then decided to keep faith with the same starting XI for the visit of Brentford on Saturday, where United hit Thomas Frank’s side for five.

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And ahead of Sunday’s Premier League clash against Manchester United, Howe will have the exact same decision to make. Will the Magpies head coach stick with Burn or recall Targett?

“Before the Fulham game, Matt was ill, we had a few illnesses going around the camp, different things,” Howe said. “He picked up quite a serious illness that kept him out for three or four days and we felt his training had been light going into that game so we went with Dan. And in the two games since, I think the results have spoken for themselves.”

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Howe highlighted Burn’s versatility, which has undoubtedly come in handy this campaign. It means the 30-year-old has deservedly maintained his place in the starting line-up alongside £35m summer signing Sven Botman, also a left-sided central defender.

"It’s definitely a position he can play and can play very well,” Howe said. “We were aware when we signed him that he had that versatility. He played left-back, left wing-back and left-sided centre-half at Brighton. Left-sided centre-half, if you asked Dan, would probably be his preferred position.

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“But he’s the type of character that will play anywhere the team need him at that moment. He’s a very, very giving personality. I think he enjoys playing left-back because it means he can get higher up the pitch. I’m loving working with Dan and his versatility is going to be very important for us."

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