‘It would certainly be a concern if that happened’: Eddie Howe admits he fears a return to reduced crowds or empty stadiums would affect his Newcastle side in their fight to avoid Premier League relegation
- The rise of Covid-19 cases has led to concern that attendances may be curbed
- Eddie Howe has seen the power of a capacity St James’ Park since being hired
- Newcastle head coach Howe admits smaller crowd may hurt his team this year
- Several Premier League clubs have seen players tested Covid positive this week
Eddie Howe fears a return to reduced crowds or behind-closed-doors football would hinder Newcastle United in their fight for survival.
The rise in positive cases of Covid-19 among Premier League clubs – coupled with the wider spread of the Omicron variant – has led to concern within the game of attendances being curbed.
Howe has seen the power of a capacity St James’ Park since his arrival last month, and five points from three home matches has moved them to within three of safety.
Eddie Howe is concerned that empty stadiums would affect Newcastle’s relegation fight
But the head coach believes to lose that support would affect his team perhaps more than most.
‘It would certainly be a concern if that happened for us, because the power of our home supporters is well renowned,’ said Howe.
‘From my perspective, we wouldn’t want that in any way. But of course, we have to respect the health of everyone coming to matches and make sure everyone stays fit and healthy.
The struggling Magpies have picked up five points from three home matches under Howe
‘It is a very delicate balance for the Premier League. But everyone connected to football does not want to go back to where we were during lockdown.’
Howe has also revealed that Newcastle will be taking a player’s vaccination status into consideration when identifying January transfer targets.
He said: ‘It is certainly something we will be considering. We take vaccination status very seriously and are in regular dialogue with all players about educating them.’
Meanwhile, Newcastle will be without central defender Federico Fernandez for the majority of the festive fixtures after he picked up a thigh strain.
St James’ Park was empty when football moved behind closed doors due to coronavirus
But a return to crowds has helped lift the team as they bid to avoid the drop this season
The Magpies have a daunting run with Thursday’s trip to Liverpool followed by home matches against both Manchester clubs.
Howe said: ‘Yes, we’re playing some superb teams in the next few weeks, but we have to look at ourselves first and foremost and deliver our game to the very highest level.
‘The confidence has to come from your work and your preparation. The only place it can come from is the training ground and making sure the players leave the training pitch confident in what I’m asking them to do.
‘We’ve got a vastly experienced squad in many ways and every player knows that our results are dictated by ourselves and not the opposition.’
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