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Eddie Howe's 'ruin the game' verdict & encouraging injury update on Newcastle trio

Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe <i>(Image: PA)</i>
Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe (Image: PA)

NEWCASTLE boss Eddie Howe has warned more VAR would “ruin” football after finding himself on the wrong end of this week's Champions League controversy.

Football’s lawmakers are considering options to extend the system’s use at the same time as a debate over its effectiveness in its current form rages on.

The Magpies were denied a Champions League victory at Paris St Germain on Tuesday after Polish referee Szymon Marciniak was asked to review a decision not to award a penalty for handball against Tino Livramento by VAR official Thomas Kwiatkowski and changed his mind to allow Kylian Mbappe to level in stoppage time.

Asked if he would like to see more or less VAR, head coach Howe said: “I’d like to see less VAR.

“I don’t have an issue with offsides because that is as close as it can be to being right, whether you agree with the decision, the lines give you a black and white yes or no. The rest, I’m not in favour.

“I still think it’s just another person’s opinion against another person’s opinion. It’s very subjective. I’d like to see less. I definitely wouldn’t want to see more because I think it would ruin the game.”

Kwiatkowski had been due to oversee Wednesday night’s Real Sociedad versus Red Bull Salzburg game in the same competition, but was stood down, a decision which brought Howe, who revealed the club have contacted UEFA to seek clarity over the penalty award, little comfort.

He said: “That for me, with VAR is an issue – not enough power is given to the on-field decision, which in this case was correct.

“I still believe – I’m old-fashioned in this – that the on-field decision should be given a little bit more strength because the referee is there, he’s feeling the game, he’s managing the game in the middle and I think that is worth something.”

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Howe’s comments came as he prepared his players for Saturday evening’s Premier League clash with Manchester United at St James’ Park still contemplating a lengthy injury list, but with no new additions after an attritional night at the Parc des Princes and with hopes high that midfielders Joe Willock and Sean Longstaff will be sidelined for weeks rather than months.

There was also an encouraging update on Sven Botman, who isn't training with the team but is back on the grass and, says Howe, has "reacted well to the work he's doing".

On Willock and Longstaff, Howe said: "We hope both aren't long-term injuries. Hopefully we can get them back.

"But even two or three weeks at this stage feels like a lifetime. It's hard to give you a definitive time on both players.

"I thought you were going to ask me if Sean would be back for this weekend, which would be too soon.

"We hope to get some players back in the not-too-distant future, but certainly there doesn't seem that there is anyone that is right around the corner."

Newcastle have lost just one of their last five encounters in all competitions with the Red Devils, who also suffered Champions League disappointment 24 hours later when they squandered a 3-1 lead at Galatasaray to draw 3-3, although Erik ten Hag’s side have won five of their last six league games.

Asked if he and his players could use their burning sense of injustice from Paris as added motivation, Howe said: “I always want that sense that we are against everybody outside of Newcastle when we play. I think that helps us.

“That is a good mentality to have, that we are competing against everybody else. It’s certainly served us well to this point and if it helps any individual players, then great."