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Howe waiting on frontmen's fitness ahead of Old Trafford trip

Newcastle United boss Eddie Howe is waiting on the fitness of frontmen Alexander Isak and Callum Wilson ahead of Wednesday's crucial Premier League clash at Manchester United (kick-off 8pm BST).

The Magpies head to Old Trafford looking for a victory which would put them in the driving seat in the race for sixth place going into Sunday's final game of the campaign at Brentford - and would also ensure Eddie Howe's side finished above the Red Devils for the first time ever in a Premier League season.

But head coach Howe is still monitoring the availability of forwards Isak, who was withdrawn during Newcastle's 1-1 draw at home to Brighton on Saturday, and Wilson, who missed the game against the Seagulls.

Ahead of the contest at Old Trafford - where the Magpies won 3-0 in the Carabao Cup in November - Howe spoke to the media on Tuesday morning, saying his charges are "desperate" to secure a result. Here are some of the main topics that were up for discussion:

On Isak and Wilson...

"Alex didn't train yesterday. We will see if he trains today. He wasn't feeling 100 per cent (against Brighton), I think you could see that - we knew on Friday that he was slightly under the weather.

"We haven't seen Callum yet. We will see if he is available to train today. If not, we will have him for Brentford."

On the game against Erik ten Hag's men...

"It is a massive fixture. 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."

On that 3-0 Carabao Cup win at the same venue back in November, when Miguel Almirón, Lewis Hall and Joe Willock were on target...

"It was a moment where we were beginning to experience some injuries - it was a real team effort, a real team performance.

"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."

On Nick Pope, who returned to the squad this month following his shoulder injury...

"Nick is a player who has come back from a serious injury, a big problem to a big area of the body for a goalkeeper.

"He has still been getting his rhythm back from the training work he has been doing. I am really pleased with how he's looked. He has continued to improve through training.

"Every game I have a decision to make and that will be another one."

On Elliot Anderson, who has impressed in midfield recently and provided the assist for Sean Longstaff's equaliser against the Seagulls on Saturday...

"Elliot has come through the academy here. When I first came to the club, we were aware of him and his talents. He's really worked on all aspects of the game, and I think he's been really reliable for us.

"Whatever position I have used in him, he has done very well. Tactically I have asked him to do a couple of things that the team has needed, and he's done it very well. I am really pleased with his level of maturity and his tactical understanding."

On the final week of the season and the chance of qualifying for Europe for a second successive season...

"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."

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