Newcastle United is running out of games in its quest to finish in the Premier League’s top four and must return to winning ways, manager Eddie Howe said ahead of Sunday’s home clash with Wolverhampton Wanderers.
A run of five league games without a victory has cost Newcastle its place in the top four and a League Cup final defeat by Manchester United was also a bitter pill to swallow.
It has still been an impressive campaign for Newcastle but Howe says it is vital to regain some momentum heading into the forthcoming international break with wins against Wolves and then fellow struggler Nottingham Forest next Friday.
“Two big games (against Wolves and Nottingham Forest) because of where they are situated,” Howe told reporters.
“We have the international break afterwards and we want to go into that break really in a good moment. We’re also running out of games. They are going to go so quickly, 14 left. We need points and we are determined to end this run of games we have had in a confident way. And we need to try and maximize every single one of those games and it’s still in our hands.”
Howe has called on his team’s ‘mental strength’ in what has been the toughest spell of the season so far.
“Through every season there are difficult moments and there are patches where you for some reason don’t win the games maybe you should and sometimes you win games you shouldn’t,” he said.
“We’re in the former one and that’s where you have to be strong mentally and know it will change.”
A lack of goals has undermined Newcastle’s challenge with striker Callum Wilson having scored only once since the end of October.
“I think the fact that Callum’s taking full ownership of his performances, I think it’s a very, very good thing as well,” Howe said. “Callum is vastly experienced top player. He has a huge part to play in our season.”
Newcastle could have Fabian Schar back in contention after injury while Bruno Guimaraes is expected to be available after shaking off an ankle knock sustained in the defeat against Manchester City last weekend. Joelinton is suspended.