Howe on league form, balance and Brentford

Joe Bradshaw, BBC Sport

Eddie Howe has been speaking to the media before Newcastle’s game with Brentford on Saturday.

Here are the key lines from his news conference:

  • He has not been discouraged by three straight defeats: "There have been highs and lows. We have played four games and only not performed well in one. We have to retain faith in what we do and deal with the challenges. I am very calm in one sense but also anxious and determined to win football matches."

  • Sven Botman has trained this week so is "possibly" available. Sandro Tonali has a slight injury but "nothing serious". Howe says he has "fingers crossed" the two will be fit.

  • He has options in midfield, including the availability of Sean Longstaff: "We are looking for a balance that works within our team structure. Against Aston Villa, how our midfield performed was a thing of beauty. We just have to work in training to make sure the team performs at its best."

  • All his attention is on Brentford, rather than the return to Champions League football next week: "I do not want to talk about Milan - that will take priority once this game is over."

  • On Saturday's opponents: "They have done very, very well and very difficult to play against. We don't underestimate them in any way but we have had a long time to prepare and it is about us as always. We need to make sure our levels are the best they can be."

  • Finally, he paid tribute to Steve Harper after he suffered a stroke last week: "I was very shocked to hear the news. He has been a tower of strength for me personally and is Newcastle through and through. A great person with a lovely family and I wish him well and a speedy return."

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