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Key Newcastle man “fine” for Liverpool – yet Eddie Howe’s fingers still “crossed”

Amid injury concerns for Joelinton, Eddie Howe has said he is “fine” for the match vs. Liverpool, but there are still doubts.

Once cast aside as a flop, Joelinton has turned himself into a key component of Howe’s Newcastle team after a change in position.

The Brazilian left the pitch with 56 minutes played, last weekend after a late tackle on Phil Foden. There were initially doubts about his availability for the Liverpool game on Sunday.

Howe has now said: “Joelinton is fine. We didn’t see him in the early part of the week but he trained in the latter part so fingers crossed he’s OK.”

This does raise some doubts about whether he can start due to Howe’s wording of his answer.

Liverpool would have been given a boost had he been missing for the match completely, but Howe is forming a squad that is more than capable of giving the Reds a run for their money.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, January 21, 2020: Joelinton Cássio Apolinário de Lira during the FA Premier League match between Everton FC and Newcastle United FC at Goodison Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Bruno Guimaraes is expected to start alongside Joelinton with new signing Sandro Tonali making up the midfield three.

One man who won’t be involved, though, is Joe Willock. Despite “making good progress,” according to Howe, he isn’t expected expected to train until the international break due to a hamstring injury.

Left back Lewis Hall is in contention for a place in the squad after joining recently. The manager said: “He caught my eye immediately. I really liked his attitude, his physical and technical attributes so I think he’s going to be a good signing for us.”

Elsewhere, Emil Krafth and former-Red Javier Manquillo remain sidelined for the Magpies.

Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 13 matches against the Toon but this the strongest Newcastle setup in years.

NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, ENGLAND - Sunday, October 1, 2017: Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge and Newcastle United's Javier Manquillo during the FA Premier League match between Newcastle United and Liverpool at St. James' Park. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

Howe added: “The rivalry between Newcastle and Liverpool has always been there historically, I don’t think it’s ramped up particularly any more than it’s always been.

“Historically, it’s been a game where everyone would say ‘I want to watch that’. There will be moments and flashpoints because it’s two iconic clubs going against each other.”

Possible Newcastle XI vs. Liverpool: Pope; Trippier, Schar, Botman, Burn; Tonali, Bruno, Joelinton; Almiron, Isak, Barnes