NEWCASTLE: Eddie Howe believes Newcastle United must find their clinical edge if the team is to progress to its first League Cup semifinal since 1976.
However, the head coach has vowed to return to “full strength” after resting many of his key men for the weekend FA Cup loss at Sheffield Wednesday.
Leicester City stand in the way of Howe, Newcastle and a two-legged last four tie, with the quarterfinal set to take place at St. James’ Park on Tuesday evening.
And the likes of Callum Wilson, Nick Pope and Fabian Schar, all rested on Saturday, will return to the side, according to Howe.
“We’ll be going full strength to win the match,” he said.
“It’s an opportunity and we need to be highly motivated for the game. I am sure we will be. We will need real energy from everyone to get the crowd into the game. We have a lot to be positive about and need to get Saturday out of our system very quickly.
“This is the biggest game of our season, because it is the next game. But it does have a special meaning, we understand that. We need what we have had every home game — a brilliant atmosphere and environment where the team can excel and feel free to give their best.
“The fact it’s earlier in the season means you have a better chance of playing your stronger team. Saturday’s game, the timing, was difficult because of Tuesday’s upcoming game. It was a very quick turnaround on the back of a congested league period. But the Carabao Cup, in the latter stages, now takes on huge importance.”
Wilson was left out after a recent illness, while Schar and Pope were given some extra time away from the group due to World Cup commitments with their respective nations in Qatar.
Others such as Kieran Trippier, Bruno Guimaraes, Dan Burn and Joe Willock, all on the bench for the 2-1 loss at Hillsborough, are also likely to come back into contention.
The need for a swift Wilson recall has been negated somewhat by the return to full fitness of Sweden international frontman Alexander Isak.
The club record buy played just his fourth game for United, his first since September, after a lengthy hamstring issue kept him out for much of the season.
And there was much to like about the player’s performance — although, fully fit, he would have surely tucked away one of two gilt-edged chances that fell his way.
Howe said: “He’s getting closer. Hopefully Saturday will do him good and he’ll be involved. We want him fit and available as quickly as possible. I felt that 45 minutes was his maximum on Saturday.”
On Allan Saint-Maximin, out due to an illness at the weekend, as well as Wilson, Howe said: “Allan, I don’t know — we’ll have to wait and see. Callum, I expect to be back.
“Fingers crossed, Nick and Fabian will also be back.”
The Magpies hammered the Foxes 3-0 at the King Power Stadium on Dec. 26 in the Premier League, which could act as a positive precursor to tomorrow’s main event.
However, Howe is not reading too much into the events of days gone by, no matter how recent.
“This game will be different to Boxing Day,” he said.
“Brendan is a very good tactician. I thought that game, the scoreline, slightly flattered us. It certainly wasn’t an easy game and we understand the quality they have. We will need to be at our best to get through.
“Psychologically, it would be a great thing for us to get through to a two-legged semifinal. We want to experience that, but we have a very different tough opponent in our way.
“We have to be more clinical. If we look back at the Leeds game and Saturday, there were too many chances not taken.”
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