Newcastle United are working hard in training ahead of Thursday night’s huge game against Brighton, but Eddie Howe appears to be working with a smaller group than usual.
The club have released a selection of photos from Tuesday morning’s training session, and a few Newcastle regulars have not been spotted.
Howe has a couple of injury concerns heading into the clash with the Seagulls, and these latest pictures suggest that those concerns might not be going away.
Sean Longstaff not seen in training ahead of Brighton
The first player not spotted is Sean Longstaff. He is Newcastle’s biggest absentee right now, having missed the games against Arsenal and Leeds with an ankle injury.
There is a lot of confusion surrounding his fitness, and Howe himself has admitted that he does not know when the midfielder will be available again.
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The fact that he is not in training suggests that he won’t be fit to return against Brighton, which is a massive shame. We could really do with his relentless pressing and endless energy against Roberto De Zerbi’s side, who will arrive on Tyneside full of confidence after their 3-0 win at the Emirates on Sunday.
Murphy and Wilson not spotted in Newcastle training either
There are two other first-team regulars who do not appear in any of the 25 training photos uploaded to the club’s official website: Jacob Murphy and Callum Wilson.
The former was on the bench against Leeds, but did not play at Elland Road due to a ‘sore groin’.
It seemed like a precaution at the time, given that he was still fit enough to be a substitute. But the fact he has not been seen in training suggests that there might be more to this injury.
We will no doubt hear more from Howe in his pre-match press conference, and he will be desperate to include the ‘devastating’ 28-year-old in his squad on Thursday night.
Given his history with injuries, the fact that Wilson has not been spotted either is a worry. He was substituted in the second half against Leeds, but that appeared to be a tactical decision rather than an enforced one.
Wilson, who is our top scorer with 17 goals, will hope to start for the fourth game in a row on Thursday night, and may just be being preserved and protected during the final weeks of the season.
The fact he is not in training does not necessarily mean he is injured – the cameras might just not have picked him up, or it could be a rest day. But it will certainly cause some concern among Toon fans.