‘We will’ - Newcastle United’s response when asked about signing Sandro Tonali replacement in January

Newcastle United midfielder Sandro Tonali. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)Newcastle United midfielder Sandro Tonali. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Newcastle United midfielder Sandro Tonali. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images) | Getty Images
Newcastle United will be without Sandro Tonali for the rest of the 2023-24 campaign after his ban was announced.

When asked earlier this week, Eddie Howe refused to be drawn on whether Newcastle United will look to sign a replacement for Sandro Tonali during the January transfer window.

It was announced by the Italian Football Federation on Thursday that Tonali had been handed a 10-month ban following an investigation by the Italian Prosecutor’s Office and the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) in relation to illegal betting activity.

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The 23-year-old won’t return to playing until August next year - a few weeks into the 2024-25 campaign - but is able to train with the Magpies as normal.

Newcastle United midfielder Sandro Tonali. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)Newcastle United midfielder Sandro Tonali. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Newcastle United midfielder Sandro Tonali. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Tonali’s immediate absence leaves Newcastle a body light in midfield but when questioned prior to the 1-0 defeat to Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League, Howe has refused to entertain talking about potential replacements.

The Magpies’ boss said: “It’s a bit too early for that to be honest. I know there are a lot of rumours going around but until we hear for definite, January and all that will entail, we will have time to prepare a strategy for that moment but it’s not yet.”

Tonali has made 12 appearances for Newcastle since joining from AC Milan in a deal worth £52million plus adds-on in the summer.

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In the same press conference as Howe on Tuesday, Tonali’s teammate Sean Longstaff was also questioned and he believes United have the squad depth to cope without him - citing Joe Willock’s return.

“I’m confident we can cope,” said Longstaff. We don’t know the outcome yet, but we’ve got Joe Willock coming back from injury, Joelinton fit again and Elliot Anderson has stepped up massively. And then we’ve got the little superstar Lewis Miley coming through, who I absolutely love.

“The big one is Willock coming back. I could talk all day about how good he is and even watching him in training this week, it doesn’t look like he’s missed a minute. I’m just really excited to have him back.

“We know how important he is - the team plays its best when he is in it. No one can do what he does in terms of the way he moves off the ball and how confident he is on it. Hopefully he can show what he can do on this stage as well.”

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