Eddie Howe wants Newcastle United to generate some “positive momentum” for their Premier League campaign as they travel to Nottingham Forest in their final game before the international break.
The Magpies have endured a successful season under the Englishman and new ownership, transformed from mid-table mediocrity to EFL Cup finalists and top-four hopefuls.
A mixed run of form since the new year however has continued to hinder his side, and against a Forest team out to ensure they dodge the worst of a relegation battle, Howe wants a response.
“We want to go into the international break on a high and with positive momentum,” he said. “If we can get a result in this game I think we’ll be in a really good place. It’s an important game for us.
“It was an intense game last week, really intense physically, so we’ve been managing and nursing a few players. We’ll wait and see who’s fit. Nothing major hopefully.”
Howe was particularly complimentary of opposite number Cooper, who weathered a poor start to the season to deliver some big results since at the City Ground.
“I think he deserves huge credit for the job he’s done,” he added. “Firstly, to get his team promoted from a very difficult position, then stabilising in the Premier League.
“I think their performances have just got better and better so we know it’s going to be a very difficult game for us.”
Cooper meanwhile would not rule Brennan Johnson out of playing against Newcastle despite the player picking up a groin injury against Tottenham at the weekend.
“The scan tells you something but you have to treat the player,” he added. “It’s unlikely that Brennan will be involved at the weekend but there’s a small chance.
“We want to give him every chance to see if he’s available and if he is, great, if not it’s just one of those things.
“I’m not completely ruling him out but at the same time when you walk off with a muscle injury it can take a bit longer than a week to recover.”
The Magpies were 2-0 victors when the pair last met earlier this season, thanks to goals for Fabian Schar and Callum Wilson.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Forest – Jesse Lingard
The former Manchester United man has scored three goals in seven Premier League games against Newcastle, only netting more in the competition against Arsenal (4).
His second ever top-flight goal came against the Magpies in January 2016, though he’s still yet to score in 16 appearances for Forest this term.
Newcastle – Miguel Almiron
The Paraguay international continues to be a key performer on the pitch for the Magpies as they look to push on for a top-four finish.
He has scored 30 per cent of Newcastle’s Premier League goals this season (11/37), the highest share by a Magpies player in a single campaign since Loic Remy in 2013-14 (33 per cent – 14/43).
MATCH PREDICTION – NEWCASTLE WIN
Newcastle are unbeaten in their last 13 Premier League games against promoted sides (W6 D7) since a 2-1 loss to Leeds in January 2021. They last had a longer run without defeat in the competition between September 2002 and January 2005 (15).
Nottingham Forest have won just one of their last 11 league games played on a Friday (D6 L4), beating Cardiff 1-0 in April 2021. In the top-flight, they’ve lost five of their last six Friday games (D1), with their only such game in the Premier League ending in a 3-2 home defeat to Fulham earlier this season.
The hosts are unbeaten in their last nine Premier League home games though (W4 D5), since losing three in a row in August/September. Only Manchester United (12) are on a longer current run without defeat at home in the division.
OPTA WIN PROBABILITY
Forest27.4 per cent
Newcastle43.2 per cent
Draw29.4 per cent