The right-back has already made a bid for cult stardom in the short time he has been at St James Park, but his lay-off could be a worst-case scenario

Kieran Trippier could miss the rest of the season following foot surgery, says Newcastle United boss Eddie Howe, with the defenders absence a major blow for both the Magpies and England.

The right-back arrived from Atletico Madrid during the January transfer window as the first of a host of major signings under the clubs new ownership aimed at helping them to escape the throes of a Premier League relegation battle.

The Three Lions defender had already established himself as an potential cult hero at St James Park, netting in his last two games before suffering a broken foot against Aston Villa – and now, Howe admits that he faces a race to feature again before the end of the campaign.

Telling his pre-match press conference ahead of this weekends game with West Ham that Trippiers operation was a success, the Magpies boss added: “That was good news, but I dont know how long hes going to be out.

“We hope to have him back before the end of the season, but its obviously a significant injury, which is a big blow to us because he was performing so well. Were going to have to see how his early rehab goes.

“Sadly, were going to miss his leadership skills on the pitch and everything that he was delivering for us. Hes scored two goals in the last two games which have been defining moments for us, but were confident we have enough quality in the squad to cover.”

Not only is Trippiers enforced absence a loss for Newcastle, but it also presents a further wrinkle for England manager Gareth Southgate, under whom the 31-year-old has emerged as something of a flexible defensive mainstay.

The Three Lions boss has been on hand to watch several of the right-backs performances at St James Park since his return from Spain and after playing vital roles in the national teams near-miss campaigns at Russia 2018 and Euro 2020, was likely to consider him a safe bet for his Qatar 2022 plans, thanks to his ability to play left-back too.

With his injury however, Trippier will now miss Englands double-header at Molineux next month and could be a doubt for the start of the latest Nations League cycle in the summer, leaving him with the prospect of a race to prove his fitness for next terms mid-season tournament.

Newcastle will hope to rally in the wake of Trippiers absence when they face West Ham this weekend, having finally freed themselves from the shackles of the bottom three.

The Magpies remain four points ahead of Norwich with a game in hand, but remain in the thick of a congested race that theoretically stretches higher than 15th-placed Leeds United, two points ahead of them.

Victory against David Moyes Europe-chasing Hammers will be an essential result if they can pull it off, with Brazil international Bruno Guimarees potentially in line for a first start since his arrival last month.

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