Newcastle United boss Eddie Howe reacts to Sandro Tonali decision and confirms mixed injury news

Eddie Howe has described the suspended two-month ban handed to Sandro Tonali as the right decision as it allows him to return to competitive action in August. Credit: PA

Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe believes the Football Association made the "right decision" by handing Sandro Tonali a suspended two-month ban for breaching betting rules.

The Italian midfielder has also been fined £20,000 and warned by the FA as to his future conduct.

Tonali is currently serving a ten-month football ban, imposed by the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) for betting offences committed while playing in Italy.

Crucially his new sanction, suspended for the whole 2024/25 season, will not affect his current return date on 27 August provided he does not commit any further betting breaches.

This decision has been welcomed by Howe who reiterated his support for his summer signing.

Sandro Tonali has not featured for Newcastle since October last year. Credit: PA

“I think it’s the right decision the FA have arrived at, that his ban isn’t extended," he said. "We’re still supporting him and helping him through this time.

"He’s conducted himself in a really positive way. I’ve seen the hunger [to return] there all through the time. He’s done a lot of work alone, individual work, fitness work, gym work, we’ve worked on his speed, and covered loads of aspects of his game to try and help him.

"We’ve covered loads of aspects of his game to try and help him utilise the time in a positive way.

"Of course, I see a small fraction of his life, the time he is at the training ground. He’s a very good professional, he’s trained very well, but he’s relatively quiet, that’s just his personality. I wouldn’t necessarily see what goes on beneath the surface, I’m sure he’s had difficult moments but he’s done really well."

Tonali has been unable to play for Newcastle since October and Howe admitted his absence has been particularly felt during a campaign where the Magpies have suffered persistent injury issues.

“His technical ability, his ability to play different positions in a season where you’re stretched by injuries," he said. "Any player that is versatile is hugely important.

“He would have been a big, big player for us. He would have driven us to get some key results. The players have felt his loss as well. That has been a negative for the players to see him train and then not be able to play.”

Fabian Schär will miss the rest of the season for Newcastle. Credit: PA

On the injury front, Howe had mixed fortunes to report Saturday's trip to Burnley with the news Fabian Schär would miss the rest of the season tempered by the return of Joelinton, Nick Pope and Miguel Almirón to full training.

“Fabian will miss a period of time with a minor hamstring problem," Howe explained. "He won’t be available tomorrow and I doubt we’ll see him again this season.

“We’ve had Miggy and Joelinton return this week, their first steps back into full team training. We’ve also seen Nick Pope as well so it’s been a good week. It’s certainly given us a big lift. "We’ll see after today (if they’re available for Burnley). I’ve got to make the right decisions individually and for the team.”

Schär's abscene leaves Newcastle particularly light at centre-half with Jamaal Lascelles and Sven Botman already out for the season with knee injuries.

Right-back Emil Krafth now looks set to deputise alongside Dan Burn in the centre with veteran Paul Dummett and youngster Alex Murphy waiting in the wings.

Howe's focus remains on helping Newcastle return to European football with the race for the top seven expected to go to the final day.

"We know we're going to have to win games to qualify for Europe and we know it's going to be tight," Howe said. "We're up against top quality teams and Chelsea are in a good vein of form too so I think it will go right to the wire."

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