Sandro Tonali has ‘high chance’ of playing against Wolves, says Newcastle boss Eddie Howe

Newcastle boss Eddie Howe says there is a “high chance” Sandro Tonali can play against Wolves on Saturday despite receiving a 10-month ban from football.

Howe said the club are in “limbo” as they await confirmation of the ban.

The 23-year-old was banned by the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) on Thursday for breaching betting rules.

“We’ve heard the news, the statement, but we haven’t had anything from the Italian authorities at the moment,” Howe said on Friday.

“I think there’s a high chance again that he could be available for us. I still think there are a few things that have to happen before the ban is imposed, so let’s see.”

The ban is yet to be approved by governing bodies Uefa and Fifa.

The FIGC said the Italy midfielder had breached a rule that prohibits players placing bets on football events organised by FIGC, Uefa and Fifa, and he has also been fined 20,000 euros (£17,380).

It added that the federal prosecutor and Tonali had agreed to an 18-month disqualification, eight months of which will be commuted to “a therapeutic plan” to help “recovery from gambling addiction”.

Reports have suggested Tonali will still be able to train with Newcastle despite the ban, but Howe said “we don’t know” if that is the case.

Sandro Tonali

Tonali joined Newcastle from AC Milan in July for £55m, becoming the Magpies’ second-most expensive signing.

The Newcastle boss said the club had no knowledge of any potential betting breaches when they signed him.

“You make a decision at the time with the knowledge you have,” Howe said. “We really liked him as a footballer and had no idea that this was even a possibility.

“Of course, there’s a frustration and a disappointment that we’re not going to have a quality player for a period of time.

“It shows nobody knows what tomorrow will bring. It is a valuable lesson. We need a squad robust enough to deal with these things. It is part of life and football.”

Speaking about Tonali’s mindset, Howe added: “He was bright when he came on against Dortmund. From the moment this happened, his training performances have been very good.

“His mood is the same. It is there in the background and I’m sure there are difficult times for him.”

Following the announcement of Tonali’s ban, reports linked Newcastle with a move for former Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves, who moved to Saudi Pro League side Al-Hilal in the summer.

Newcastle, who are sixth in the Premier League, travel to Wolves on Saturday before facing Manchester United in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday.

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