Eddie Howe took the decision to start Callum Wilson and Alexander Isak on Sunday.

It’s difficult to know if that worked or not.

Clearly, the result would suggest it didn’t.

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NEWCASTLE, ENGLAND – MAY 7: Gary Neville working as a TV pundit for Sky Sports ahead of the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Arsen…

Still, even despite the 2-0 loss at St James’ Park, Newcastle had good chances and could well have taken the lead had an early penalty shout not have been overturned.

Indeed, the sight of Wilson and Isak starting together has been something fans have been eager to see. They combined well during the comeback win over Southampton and both players have been in impressive form.

Gary Neville reacts to Wilson and Isak starting together

While the end result clearly wasn’t something Howe wanted, pundit Gary Neville spoke of the partnership when summing the game up after the full-time whistle.

Though the Sky Sports pundit claimed he understood the reasoning behind it, Neville stressed Howe’s reasoning did not make sense.

The Magpies coach had hinted Sean Longstaff’s injury forced his hand on that front. Still, Neville had other ideas.

“I can see why he did it [starting Isak and Wilson],” he said.

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“He said before the game it was because of Longstaff’s injury. We didn’t go back to Eddie and say ‘well, that doesn’t make sense because you’ve got [Miguel] Almiron, you’ve got [Allan] Saint-Maximin, you could have easily replaced him with sort of other options.'”

Longstaff’s importance now obvious

Whatever you made of the Isak-Wilson partnership, it’s hard to see how starting either Almiron or Saint-Maximin would have changed things.

Newcastle are yet to lose a game when the starting midfield has been Longstaff, Joe Willock and Bruno Guimaraes. The academy graduate is a hugely important figure, even if his value isn’t so easily measured in terms of goals and assists.

With big games to come in the battle for the top four, let’s hope Longstaff is back before the end of the season.

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