Newcastle manager Eddie Howe is looking at a pair of free agents as he looks for a rapid fix to the club’s injury issues, sources have confirmed to TEAMtalk.
Howe has done a remarkable job since taking the St James’ Park reigns just over two years ago, steering the club from the bottom three of the Premier League and into the Champions League. However, the high-octane football demanded by Howe is starting to take its toll at Newcastle with the club currently missing nine players through injury.
Indeed, Harvey Barnes (foot), Callum Wilson and Matt Targett (both hamstring), Dan Burn and Elliott Anderson (both back), Jacob Murphy (shoulder), Sven Botman (knee), Alexander Isak (groin) and Javier Manquillo (groin) will all be absent from the side to take on Bournemouth on Saturday.
Of those nine, only Wilson has an outside chance of featuring, though it is unlikely Howe will risk him against his former club.
And with Bruno Guimaraes seving a one-match ban and also missing Saturday evening’s game after collecting a fifth caution of the season, he also joins Sandro Tonali on the sidelines, with the Italian seeing his season ending early in the wake of a 10-month ban for breaching betting regulations.
As a result, Howe suddenly finds his resources extremely stretched with the club struggling under the weight of competing on four fronts this season.
To that end, the January window will provide Newcastle with an opportunity to bring in some much-needed reinforcements to bolster their ranks.
Newcastle consider immediate free agent pair
And with midfield likely to be a priority, Newcastle are reportedly strongly considering moves for both Kalvin Phillips and former Wolves man Ruben Neves.
However, we can reveal Howe has been offered free-agent star Xeka as an immediate fix to lift his injury-hit squad.
The 28-year-old Portuguese star is without a club having seen a two-year deal with Rennes cut short in the summer following an injury-hit spell.
He moved there as a free agent after leaving Lille but only managed eight appearances for his new club. As a result, his contract was brought to an end early over the summer and the player has since not fixed himself up with a new club.
The former Portugal U20 midfielder has held talks with a number of clubs since the summer and only recently had been close to joining Celta Vigo.
Xeka has previously been linked with a move to England with the likes of Crystal Palace, West Ham and Aston Villa showing an interest.
It remains to be seen if Eddie Howe’s recruitment team will be tempted as they assess whether to bring in him on an initial trial.
The Magpies are also being offered Mali defender Almamy Toure, who is also available on a free having left Eintracht Frankfurt in the summer.
The 27-year-old defender, who can play at both right-back and in central defence, has also been brought to Newcastle’s attention. Bayern Munich and Kaiserslautern have both looked into Toure’s situation in recent weeks, but we understand Howe has also been offered an opportunity to take a look at the player.
Howe discusses Newcastle injury issues
As the pair are both free agents, Howe can sign either outside the window and could make an immediate move if he decides the pair can help his squad in their time of need and before the official opening of the January window.
Howe, meanwhile, insists he is not looking for excuses but admits the injuries are putting added pressure on those who are fit.
“Have I ever had this many missing? Not to this level,” he told a press conference ahead of Saturday’s trip to Bournemouth.
“But I don’t want to build it up to be any more than it is. We’re still good enough.”
Discussing the players who are injured, Howe has a small hope that Wilson could feature.
“He had a tight hamstring. We’re doing various tests. We will see how he does this morning before making a decision on him for the (Bournemouth) game,” Howe added.
In that regard, the upcoming international break is well timed from a Newcastle point of view, though Isak is also expected to return for the match against Chelsea on November 25.
“Alex is doing well and is working on his fitness levels. We are building up his load and the plan is for him to return after the international break,” Howe concluded.