Newcastle could be one of several frustrated Premier League clubs when domestic action returns, following the news Alexander Isak has picked up an injury.
Original article published 22 September 2022
The international break is always a concern for managers, as they pray nobody in their squad picks up an injury, but Magpies chief Eddie Howe is dealing with exactly that situation right now.
Club-record signing Isak, who has scored two goals in three games since joining from Real Sociedad in the summer, has been forced to withdraw from Sweden's squad due to an unspecified injury.
The 23-year-old missed training on Wednesday ahead of his country's Nations League matches against Serbia and Slovenia and is now heading back to Tyneside to assess the full extent of the issue.
Newcastle will be hoping Isak has swerved any major damage and that resting up during the remainder of the international break will be enough to see him back in domestic action in October.
However, a period on the sidelines could really impact the Magpies' progress before the season breaks for the World Cup in November, as the club's treatment room is already pretty full.
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Allan Saint-Maximin is still out of action with a thigh injury and after suffering a minor setback in his recovery, is now not expected back for the clash at Fulham on 1st October.
The Frenchman is one of Newcastle's biggest attacking threats and his absence has been felt in recent matches, with the Magpies drawing twice and losing once without the 25-year-old.
Failure to bring in more reinforcements in the final third in the summer window is in full focus for Howe, who is already believed to be drawing up a list of January recruits to bolster the options at his disposal.
Newcastle are 5/4 to win at Fulham, while the draw is priced at 12/5 and the Cottagers are 2/1.
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One positive for Newcastle could be the return of striker Callum Wilson, who hasn't featured since the thrilling 3-3 draw at home to Manchester City on 21st August.
The England international has scored two goals from three league outings this season - making him the club's joint-top scorer alongside Isak - and he is making good progress in his recovery from a thigh issue.
Wilson was close to returning for the 1-1 draw with Bournemouth before the international break and he will likely be thrown back into the starting XI, especially if Isak has been ruled out.
If Isak and Wilson are both unavailable for the Fulham trip, this could present an opportunity to New Zealand international Chris Wood to show what he can do.
The 30-year-old was a regular starter for the Magpies when arriving from Burnley in January, but he has slipped down the pecking order this term and has been largely used as a substitute.
Wood has only been named in the starting XI once in the league but he could be called upon for the Craven Cottage test, a contest the visitors will be targeting all three points in.
Another possible option for Howe would be to push former number nine Joelinton, now a marauding midfielder, into the striker position.
However, the Brazilian hasn't shown that scoring touch since arriving at St James' Park and moving him back, albeit temporarily, up front could affect the team's engine room.
Newcastle are not the only club left counting the cost of the current international break, with Everton's Nathan Patterson carried off on a stretcher during Scotland's 3-0 win over Ukraine in the Nations League on Wednesday.
On the injury, Scotland manager Steve Clarke said: "Obviously we don't know as he's got to go away and get assessed but it doesn't look a good one."
Everton boss Frank Lampard will now be sweating over the fitness of the 20-year-old, who has been an ever-present for the Toffees in the league this season.
The Merseyside outfit head to Southampton on 1st October and the visitors are 23/10 to claim the spoils, while the draw is priced at 12/5 and the Saints are 23/20 to triumph.
Another manager waiting to hear good injury news is Tottenham chief Antonio Conte, who could be without goalkeeper Hugo Lloris for a period of time.
The French shot-stopper has been ruled out of the upcoming Nations League games for the reigning champions because of a right thigh issue.
Lloris has played all seven league games for Spurs this season and he has conceded just seven goals, helping his side to third in the table and just one point off leaders Arsenal.