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As Gordon returns to Everton, Howe is mindful of pitching him into a cauldron

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On his return to relegation-threatened Everton, Newcastle manager Eddie Howe will not be afraid to throw Anthony Gordon into a fire as he pursues Champions League qualifying.

After carving up a reputation for himself in the blue half of his home city, the 22-year-old bitterly left Goodison Stadium in January for the Magpies in a £45 million transfer.

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Gordon has had to remain patient since — although he allowed his frustration to get the better of him when he was substituted at Brentford earlier this month — having started just two games for his new club, but will hope to play a significant role on familiar territory on Thursday evening.

Asked if he had to be mindful of the hostile reception the youngster could receive, head coach Howe, who has a doubt over defender Fabian Schar, replied: “You don’t want to have or do anything that impacts the team, which is the most important thing.

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“This is something surrounding the game, but is not influencing the game in terms of tactical preparation.

“There is nothing I can do to change that. It’s something we need to be mindful of, but I’m not too sure — other than concentrating on how we play — what we can do.”

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In a terse announcement of Gordon’s departure, Everton confirmed the player, who had been confronted by angry fans as he left Goodison following a 2-1 defeat by Southampton in January, had submitted a formal transfer request.

He has since insisted the situation surrounding his departure was “misconstrued” but whether he has a point to prove on his return, Howe — who revealed he would speak to the midfielder before the game — insisted he had to play the game rather than the occasion.

The 45-year-old said: “It’s staying very present and not thinking too much, just play the game — which is easier said than done in that environment where probably all eyes will be, he’ll feel, focused on him.

“I don’t want it to become a big talking point in the game.”


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