Eddie Howe recently piqued Newcastle United fans’ interest in just how well Yankuba Minteh was getting on over in the Netherlands. This, due to the fact the Magpies boss admitted the club could consider recalling the 19-year-old from his loan spell at Feyenoord.
The question was put to Howe because Newcastle are facing an injury crisis at present, with as many as 12 players sidelined through various ailments or suspensions. Minteh, after excelling in the Eredivisie so far this season, is now seen as a possible helping hand for his parent club.
However, the first major sticking point is the fact Minteh is also currently injured himself. The teenager hasn’t featured for Feyenoord since October 21 after sustaining a hamstring injury in a league game against Vitesse.
“He’s (Minteh) done very well, although unfortunately he’s injured at the moment,” Howe told reporters recently. “He’s come back for an assessment on that injury because we need to check and see how he is.
“We need to work out how serious the injury is and when he’ll be back, and then we’ll make a decision on him like we would with all our loan players.”
Even if Minteh returns to full fitness in the near future, there’s another stumbling block for Newcastle to deal with, in the form of the 2023 African Cup of Nations.
Minteh’s Gambia are one of the 24 teams taking part in the biennial event, hosted by the Ivory Coast between January 13 and February 11 2024. The youngster’s strike against Congo back in September helped his country book their place at the showpiece next year.
That means even if Minteh is recalled, he could miss a month of club action should Gambia go all the way to the final. Newcastle, as it stands, play Manchester City, Aston Villa, Luton Town and Nottingham Forest during the AFCON tournament.
Finally, and arguably most importantly, Feyenoord may not want to lose the young talent. Arne Slot’s side are currently seven points off table-topping PSV but stand a solid chance of reaching Europe through the league this season with an eight-point gap back to fifth-place.
Newcastle have the option to recall the player but Feyenoord must agree to hand him back for the deal to be cancelled. Speaking last month, Slot seemed to be full of praise for the attacker after his fine start in the Netherlands.
“He certainly doesn’t lack self-confidence,” the Feyenoord boss said. “His willingness to give everything is enormous. When we see his statistics, it is really impressive.
“Minteh runs more sprint metres against Ajax in an hour [in the 4-0 Feyenoord win] than many other boys do in two games. He is incredibly fast and he wants it so badly.”
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