There’s been some ‘good news’ for Newcastle, who have slumped to 10th in the league following a string of injuries to key players. Harvey Barnes, 26, a highly touted signing last summer, is set to make his first official return to action in four months after being sidelined since September last year. Newcastle, who have slipped to mid-table, could finally have a card to turn things around.
Newcastle manager Eddie Howe (46-England) told his pre-match press conference on Monday (Aug. 29): “Barnes’ return is getting closer and closer. He and Callum Wilson (31) are probably the closest players to coming back to help us.” Barnes suffered a serious foot injury during a game in late September and has only been fit to play for four months.
After finishing fourth in the Premier League last season, Newcastle have failed to build on that momentum this season. When the team was at full strength at the start of the season, Newcastle’s performance was not too dissimilar to last season’s, but as the injuries piled up, the squad was decimated to the point where they couldn’t even field a proper starting lineup.
The Magpies have won just four (D1, L7) of their 12 official games since December, while finishing last in their UEFA Champions League (UCL) group and bowing out of the English Football League (EFL) Carabao Cup in the quarterfinals after a penalty shootout with Chelsea. With goals seemingly out of reach, Newcastle has now lost four in a row in the league, continuing its downward spiral. The gap between them and fourth-placed Aston Villa has now grown to 14 points, and their UCL place is in doubt.
They need to turn things around sooner rather than later, and that’s where the big guns come in. Barnes, a €44 million signing last summer, is ready to return. Barnes was settling into the team well at the start of the season with increased playing time, before suffering an unexpected foot injury against Sheffield United that sidelined him for an extended period. As he recovered, the pain returned, raising the possibility of surgery, but thankfully he didn’t have to go under the knife.
While Barnes is unlikely to feature against Aston Villa in the immediate future, he could make a brief appearance against Luton Town on March 4 or Nottingham Forest on March 11. The return of Barnes, who is known for his pace and physicality on the flanks, could revitalize Newcastle’s flanking attack.
Barnes, who scored 13 goals and provided three assists in 40 official games for Leicester City last season, moved to Newcastle after the Foxes were relegated. “Mohamed Salah (31-Liverpool) and Son Heung-min (31-Tottenham) are the best at getting the ball in dangerous areas,” he told British outlet Sky Sports in the past. I want to score like them,” he said, citing Son as his idol.