By Damian Spellman, PA
Eddie Howe has warned Newcastle they will need to be more clinical if they are to soothe their FA Cup disappointment by booking a place in the Carabao Cup semi-finals.
The Magpies entertain Premier League rivals Leicester in the last eight on Tuesday evening still smarting from Saturday’s 2-1 third-round defeat at League One Sheffield Wednesday which reduced their chances of ending a domestic silverware drought which dates back almost 68 years this season.
A 15-game unbeaten run in all competitions drew to an ignominious close at Hillsborough as chances went begging, just as they did in a 0-0 league draw with Leeds at St James’ Park on New Year’s Eve, and head coach Howe knows that cannot continue if the club is to prosper this season.
The 45-year-old, who guided his side to a 3-0 league win over Brendan Rodgers’ side at the King Power Stadium on Boxing Day, said: “This game will be different to Boxing Day. Brendan is a very good tactician. I thought that game, the scoreline, slightly flattered us.
“It certainly wasn’t an easy game and we understand the quality they have. We will need to be at our best to get through.
“Psychologically, it would be a great thing for us to get through to a two-legged semi-final. We want to experience that, but we have a very different tough opponent in our way.
“We have to be more clinical. If we look back at the Leeds game and Saturday, there were too many chances not taken.”
The shock reverse at Wednesday was a rare low point in a season which has otherwise sparked unbridled hope on Tyneside with Howe’s men sitting in third place in the Premier League table and having headed for South Yorkshire with just a single defeat to their name, and that in controversial circumstances at Liverpool on August 31.
Howe made eight changes for the clash with the Owls with Nick Pope, Fabian Schar and Callum Wilson left behind along with the sick Allan Saint-Maximin, Dan Burn an unused substitute and Kieran Trippier, Bruno Guimaraes, Joe Willock and Miguel Almiron used only from the bench.
He is likely to revert to his big guns with record signing Alexander Isak, who played the opening 45 minutes at the weekend on his return from a thigh injury which has sidelined him since September, also in the running.
Asked specifically about Isak’s chances of being involved, Howe said: “He’s getting closer.
“Hopefully Saturday will do him good and he’ll be involved. We want him fit and available as quickly as possible. I felt that 45 minutes was his maximum on Saturday.”