NEWCASTLE: Eddie Howe believes the opportunity is there for both Sean Longstaff and Miguel Almiron to cement their long-term futures at Newcastle United.
Paraguayan Almiron is expected to start Sunday afternoon’s Premier League encounter with Leicester City at St. James’ Park, with Ryan Fraser’s hamstring problem likely to keep him out.
Longstaff, on the other hand, is almost certain to remain on the bench due to the form of the likes of Bruno Guimaraes in the United midfield.
Howe thinks Almiron, linked with a move to La Liga this summer, and Longstaff, whose current United deal comes to an end in June, both have a future at Newcastle and are valued. However, it’s up to the duo to prove that to the public when handed the chance in the club’s final seven games of the Premier League campaign.
“That’s wbeen no way a reflection of Miggy,” Howe said when asked about Almiron’s lack of starts.
“It’s probably been a reflection of Ryan and Maxi (Allan Saint-Maximin), who have done very well in the wide areas.
“Miggy is a player we really like; he’s got a very infectious attitude. He works extremely hard, and I thought he did really well when he came on against Wolves; he gave us a different dimension. He ran in behind and pressed very well.
“I’d love Miggy to go on a successful run and do really well. He’s trained very well behind the scenes, and his attitude has been excellent from day one since we came. I’m hopeful. If there is an opportunity for him, he can really grasp it.”
Howe accepts the time will come when Longstaff will become frustrated with his lack of game time at United, especially when he’s delivered when called upon, most recently at Stamford Bridge.
The head coach does not think that time is yet upon him, though, especially with talks on a new deal ongoing.
“Talks are continuing,” Howe said of negotiations.
“He is someone I have a lot of time for, a lot of respect for. He has definitely improved despite the fact he has not played. That has not been shown to the general public yet. We have seen a real growth in his training performances.
“He is certainly someone I like, and I see a long-term future for him here. I just hope we can get the contract sorted.”
Will the lack of games mean it is tough to convince the 24-year-old to remain at his boyhood club? Howe has revealed the player has responded well to his coaching methods — and that’s something he will deliver on when handed his opportunity.
“Sean, when he gets an opportunity in the team, I think, will take it because of the way he has trained and his general attitude around the place,” said Howe.
“There is a lot of talent there. He is an incredible athlete, and I think he has an eye for goal. He will get his chance.
“I think he feels invested in. As coaches, we are looking at every angle of his game and looking at ways we can try to take his game to the next level.
“I know there will come a time where he will want to play, need to play. But at the moment, he is in a good place, supporting the lads in the team, and he is seeing the evidence of the team being successful.
“He is okay at the moment. But longer-term, he needs to play.”
Meanwhile, Howe has admitted he has sympathy for Jurgen Klopp after the Liverpool boss made it clear he wanted the Magpies’ game against the Reds moved from its Sunday, Apr. 30 lunchtime slot.
The encounter is sandwiched in between Liverpool’s Champions League semifinal with Villarreal’s home and away legs.
Howe said: “It is a very difficult situation. They have been very successful this season and have ended up playing a lot of games. I understand it from their viewpoint. I would probably have the same view as them.
“Over the years, if you look at it, we’ve all been in that situation where you ask, ‘How has this game been moved to this time?’ But we do have very little say in when the fixtures come and how they sit. You just have to react and deal with it.
“I have every sympathy with Liverpool.”