HomeO'Neil taking inspiration from Howe ahead of Newcastle-Wolves clash

O’Neil taking inspiration from Howe ahead of Newcastle-Wolves clash

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Gary O’Neil is taking inspiration from Eddie Howe’s rise as two of the Premier League’s up-and-coming English managers prepare to do battle at St James’ Park on Saturday.

Only Manchester City (eight) and Liverpool (seven) have won more Premier League games since Christmas Eve than Wolves (six), with O’Neil leading his side into European contention.

They sit ninth in the table ahead of Saturday’s trip to St James’ Park, one point adrift of seventh-placed Brighton and Hove Albion and one clear of the Magpies in 10th.

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While there have been suggestions that Howe’s job could be under threat if Newcastle miss out on European qualification, O’Neil has nothing but praise for another ex-Bournemouth boss.

“I know Eddie fairly well. Our paths have crossed quite a bit and I have had conversations with the Bournemouth staff on the really impressive work he did there,” O’Neil said at Friday’s pre-match press conference.

“It was incredible to go from where they did and then sustain them in the Premier League.

“At Newcastle, it could have been seen as a good job, where he could spend loads and improve them fairly easily, but he has had to cope with a lot, including expectations.

“It’s very impressive, he has done great work. I have been able to look at him, as a young manager coming up. It is very impressive what he has been able to achieve.”

Newcastle have been beset by selection problems this season. Callum Wilson, Joelinton, Nick Pope, Matt Targett and Sandro Tonali all remain unavailable, while Alexander Isak, Joe Willock and Elliot Anderson have returned from injury in recent weeks.

Asked about the challenges faced by Howe, O’Neil said: “They have suffered really badly with injuries. I know how I have felt when we have had injuries.

“Ours have only been one or two at a time, but because of the size of our squad it feels like it has a big impact.

“Newcastle have suffered far more than that because they have had injuries to some key players. If you want to challenge in this league, you need your key players available.

“They have had a tough time, especially with those extra games in Europe. I have seen matches when they just didn’t look like themselves, but a lot of those players are now coming back and I am sure they will return to form.”

Wolves will be without leading goalscorer Hwang Hee-chan for Saturday’s game after he suffered a hamstring injury in Wednesday’s FA Cup win over Brighton and Hove Albion, though Joao Gomes and Mario Lemina are available after being withdrawn against the Seagulls.

Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.

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