Key Newcastle man doubtful for Man City clash; trio remain on sidelines

Mohamed Elyounoussi Southampton

Newcastle forward Allan Saint-Maximin is a doubt for the visit of Manchester City after limping off in Thursday’s defeat at Liverpool with a muscular injury.

The absence of Newcastle’s talisman would be a huge blow for Eddie Howe heading into a clash with a City side who are fresh off a 7-0 home hammering of Leeds United. However, striker Callum Wilson will return to the team after being rested at Anfield.

Left-back Jamal Lewis is set for a spell out after sustaining a hamstring injury in the 3-1 defeat. Fellow defenders Federico Fernandez (thigh) and Paul Dummett (calf) remain out.

Meanwhile, Premier League managers will convene on Monday to discuss the Covid-19 crisis engulfing the competition, with Howe saying the top flight’s integrity is on a knife-edge.

Five of this weekend’s 10 scheduled matches have already been postponed due to positive Covid tests, and Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard revealed a meeting was being organised by the league early next week to tackle the club bosses’ “concerns and unanswered questions”, in particular around the criteria used by the Premier League board to grant approval to a postponement.

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Premier League becoming disjointed

Howe is worried the incomplete fixture list makes the league “disjointed” and fears if more games are called off in the coming days, there could be questions around the competition’s integrity.

“I don’t think we want half the games played and half not played,” he said.

“The league really loses something if it becomes disjointed in terms of games played. When you start losing players to Covid then the worry is the competition becomes slightly unfair and I don’t think anyone wants to see that.

“A decision needs to be made to ensure integrity is maintained in the competition. I think it is on a knife edge.

“People want to see a fair league and not disparity in games and players missing.

“I’m desperate to continue the programme myself but the welfare of the players and supporters has to come first.”

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