Eddie Howe laments the absence of key players like Joelinton as Newcastle struggles to explain poor away form

Eddie Howe laments the absence of key players like Joelinton as Newcastle struggles to explain poor away form

Eddie Howe says the loss of warriors like Joelinton for much of this season has impacted on the mentality of his side, after Roy Keane accused Newcastle of ‘not being as tough as they think’.

The Magpies have been beaten 11 times away from home in the Premier League, compared to just three last season, the division’s lowest return. 

The latest defeat, 3-2 at Manchester United on Wednesday, leaves their European ambitions on a knife-edge heading into the final game at Brentford.

Howe was not happy with some elements of his team’s character at Old Trafford and, unlike the previous campaign in which they finished fourth, Newcastle have lost the nastiness and streetwise traits that won many plaudits.

This was put to the head coach on Friday, and he said: ‘We’ve lost some of the characteristics away from home that we need. But I think it (mentality/nastiness) is always with the individual make-up of the players. We have been missing some big players this year who would have added that mentality.

Eddie Howe admits injuries to players like Joelinton (R) has impacted on the team’s mentality

‘I think it’s in some of the players who have been missing, highlighted by Joelinton. When he plays he brings a totally different dynamic to the group. 

‘You could see when he came on, on Wednesday, that was the best he’s looked since his injury. He looked very much like his robust, agile self. Certainly, we need to find those answers for next year away from home.’

Would Howe look to sign more ‘warriors’ like Joelinton in the summer?

‘Like with everything, it’s a balance,’ he said. ‘You can have 11 warriors and then not have the quality we need to win matches, so certainly that’s something I need to look at and reflect on, but we have missed the qualities of certain individuals that will have helped us on the road.

Joelinton (7) impressed after coming off the bench against Man United on Wednesday

Joelinton (7) impressed after coming off the bench against Man United on Wednesday

‘Of course, if it’s not there, we have to try and develop that. That comes in part with experience. Certainly towards the end of the season we’ve had a very young team, which is great in some sense, but also you can’t put a price on experience, especially when you’re away from home and the game is in the balance. There is a lot for us to think about.’

Howe will have Callum Wilson back from illness for the trip to Brentford and will make a check on Anthony Gordon, who left Old Trafford with a sore ankle. The latter, however, is also expected to feature.

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