Eddie Howe vows 'to enjoy' Manchester United clash as Newcastle target European football

Newcastle United travel to Old Trafford seeking a win to maintain pole position in the race for the Premier League top six. Credit: PA

Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe has vowed his side will not underestimate Manchester United despite the Red Devils' poor form.

The Magpies travel to Old Trafford seeking three points to maintain pole position in the race for sixth place in the Premier League and the guaranteed European football it entails.

A point would all but secure a place in the top seven which would be enough to see European football return to St James' Park should Wednesday's opponents fail to beat Manchester City in the FA Cup final on 25 May.

The Red Devils have endured a stuttering end to the season with pressure building on manager Erik ten Hag but they remain in the top six hunt and Howe is not expecting an easy task in the Magpies' penultimate game of the season.

"It is a massive fixture," he said during his pre-match press conference. "We are coming to the end of the season, we are desperate to do well in the game and we will do everything we can to try and win."We back the players to give a performance. We don’t underestimate Manchester United; we know how tough it will be. We are under no illusions of the magnitude of this game. It is a time to enjoy the situation we are in.

"We find ourselves in this position, and it is where we deserve to be. We will be hoping to finish off these two games strongly. We must make sure our players go to Manchester United in really good spirits, confident and prepared. Our motivation is to qualify for Europe."

Newcastle have already beaten Manchester United twice this season. Credit: PA

Howe may not be able to call on the services of his two main strikers at Old Trafford with Alexander Isak and Callum Wilson struggling with illnesses. However, Fabian Schär is making good progress from his hamstring injury and will be assessed ahead of kick-off.

It is the first time Newcastle have travelled to Old Trafford since the 3-0 win over the Red Devils in the League Cup in November while they also emerged 1-0 winners in December' league fixture at St James' Park. Yet, Howe has been quick to downplay any suggestion the previous result in the North West could have any impact on proceedings on Wednesday night.

"It was a moment where we were beginning to experience some injuries, it was a real team effort, a real team performance," he said. "That game has no relevance to this one, it is a new challenge and I back the players. The players will embrace the pressure and be ready for the game."

Kick-off at Old Trafford is at 8pm on Wednesday (15 May).

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