Eddie Howe is hoping for a “magical European night” as Newcastle try to reach the last 16 of the Champions League on Wednesday. Newcastle must win at home to AC Milan and overcome a deepening injury crisis to have any chance of progress. Even victory over the seven-time European champions may not be enough for the Magpies to remain in the Champions League as they would still drop into the Europa League should Paris Saint-Germain win at Borussia Dortmund. Defeat, meanwhile, would ensure Newcastle finished bottom of Group F, which would represent a hugely disappointing return from a campaign that featured an impressive 4-1 defeat of Paris Saint-Germain.
Newcastle manager Howe, having guided the English side into the Champions League for the first time in 20 years, said he was not ready for his side’s time in the tournament to come to an end.
“I’ve really enjoyed the Champions League,” Howe told reporters on Tuesday.
“My only frustration is that we have not had the freedom to attack the competition as we would have liked to have done (because of injuries).
“That’s my only feeling that I’m left with that is negative.”
The former Bournemouth boss added: “The tournament itself is special, the places we have been are incredible, the stadiums, the atmospheres and the experiences we have had at home have all been memorable.
“We have one more game to go and we have to make this as memorable as possible.
“My message to the fans is to make this a magical European night. They can only do so much, we have to do our bit to make it that.”
– Dubravka doubt –
Former Milan midfielder Sandro Tonali’s 10-month suspension for betting offences while at the Italian giants has exacerbated an injury crisis.
Nick Pope, Dan Burn, Sven Botman, Harvey Barnes and Joe Willock are among those sidelined.
And there could be further bad news for Howe as Pope’s stand-in, goalkeeper Martin Dubravka, is also a doubt to face Milan.
Should the Slovakian miss out, Loris Karius, who suffered an error-strewn display playing for Liverpool in the 2018 Champions League final, on standby.
Howe said it was “slightly unclear” if 34-year-old Dubravka would be fit.
Meanwhile striker Callum Wilson, who returned from injury as a substitute during Sunday’s 4-1 loss at Tottenham in the Premier League, said there would be no better time than Wednesday to score his first Champions League goal.
“I personally believe it hasn’t come yet because it’s waiting for a special moment to happen, and what a story it would be if it’s the winning goal tomorrow night,” he said.
The 31-year-old England forward, who suffered a hamstring injury during the 2-0 defeat at Borussia Dortmund on November 7, added: “We will leave blood, sweat and tears out there. It’s what we do every time we step over the white line and for us as a football club, it’s about having no regrets.”
Milan reached the semi-finals of the Champions League last season, but must win at St. James’ Park to avoid bowing out of Europe completely.
However, they could still reach the last 16 should PSG lose in Dortmund.
Manager Stefano Pioli is under pressure after a run of three wins in 10 games has also seen Milan fall nine points behind Serie A leaders Inter.
“We have one objective; there is only one possibility, we have to win,” said Pioli.
“As far as this season is concerned, it is definitely the most important (match).”
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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