Eddie Howe has suggested there could yet be a future for Joelinton at centre-forward for Newcastle United, but revealed why he is “reluctant” to put him there at present.
Joelinton has enjoyed a revival since Eddie Howe took charge of the club in November. Having struggled to justify his club-record price tag as a striker, his new manager dropped him back into midfield. It has been an unorthodox, but effective switch.
The Brazilian has been setting higher standards since the change of position. But he still showed he can be a danger in the opposition box by scoring against Brentford last week.
It has led his head coach to re-consider his qualities, although Howe will still be using him in midfield while he performs well in that role.
At the Eddie Howe press conference on Friday, the Newcastle boss said: “I think there’s centre-forward qualities in there. Last week we saw that; it was a brilliant header.
“It was great to see him attack the box. His flexibility is something we’ll utilise but he’s doing so well in midfield I’m reluctant to move him.”
Further back in the formation, Howe has also been pressed on the future of Fabian Schar. The 30-year-old defender is out of contract at the end of the season.
TEAMtalk understands that, although seven Newcastle players are up for sale, Schar is not one of them. Conversely, he will be offered a new contract.
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Howe has now confirmed that talks will be getting underway with Schar and his representatives.
He said: “He’s defended very well. He’s another one that’s trained really well.
“We’re aware of his contract situation and we’ll be sitting down and discussing things with his agent very shortly.”
Eddie Howe press conference includes Allan Saint-Maximin update
Elsewhere in the Eddie Howe press conference, the former Bournemouth boss provided an update on the fitness of Allan Saint-Maximin.
The attacker has not played since February 13th, but is awaiting a late call from Howe as to whether he can make it for Saturday’s home match against Brighton.
Howe said: “Maxi still hasn’t trained with the group yet and we will make a late assessment.
“We’ll have to make a decision based on how he looks and how his injury status is after that training session. Aside from that, I think we’re as we were with team fitness pre-Brentford.”
Covering for Saint-Maximin on the left wing against Brentford was Ryan Fraser. Howe has been reunited with the Scotland international since taking the reins at St James’ Park.
Fraser will not necessarily be a guaranteed starter when the Frenchman returns. However, Howe is happy to deploy him in a range of roles.
The 44-year-old said: “He has played very well for me on the left [at Bournemouth]. I’ve used him more off the right here due to Maxi preferring that side too so it’s a difficult one.
“I’ve said before that good players can play in multiple positions and Ryan’s proved that.”