Sean Longstaff confident Newcastle can cope loss of Sandro Tonali with midfielder set to learn length of ban for illegal gambling… as he insists Italian has been happy at the club ever since he joined
- Sandro Tonali will learn the length of his ban from football ‘in the next 24 hours’
- Tonali is being investigated in Italy amid allegations of illegal gambling
- Listen to the latest episode of Mail Sport’s podcast ‘It’s All Kicking Off!’
Sean Longstaff says Newcastle have the depth to cope with the impending loss of Sandro Tonali and has refuted claims the Italian has never been happy on Tyneside.
Tonali is set to learn the length of his ban for alleged illegal gambling, with sources in Italy suggesting an absence of between 10 and 12 months is likely. That news could come before Wednesday’s visit of Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League.
But fellow midfielder Longstaff said: ‘I’m confident we can cope. We don’t know the outcome yet, but we’ve got Joe Willock coming back from injury, Joelinton fit again and Elliot Anderson has stepped up massively. And then we’ve got the little superstar Lewis Miley coming through, who I absolutely love.
‘The big one is Willock coming back. I could talk all day about how good he is and even watching him in training this week, it doesn’t look like he’s missed a minute. I’m just really excited to have him back.
‘We know how important he is – the team plays its best when he is in it. No-one can do what he does in terms of the way he moves off the ball and how confident he is on it. Hopefully he can show what he can do on this stage as well.’
Sean Longstaff (R) says Newcastle have the depth to cope with the loss of Sandro Tonali (left)
Much was made of Tonali being sold by Milan against his wishes in the summer. The £52million signing later admitted he felt ‘lost’ during his early weeks at his new club.
The 23-year-old was afforded a warm ovation by supporters following Saturday’s 4-0 win over Crystal Palace, with the feeling it could be his last game until next season.
And Longstaff said: ‘The way the fans were with him on Saturday was amazing, but I think everyone knew that would be the case. The way Sandro has fitted in our group has been amazing. He’s a top player first and foremost, but he’s actually a better guy.
‘The stuff going around and people saying, “Was he happy about being here?”. That sort of stuff was weird from within the group because we see him every day and how happy he is and laughing and joking with everyone.
Tonali’s fate will be decided in ‘the next 24 hours’ according to local Italian media
The midfielder’s lawyers are hoping for a 10-month ban that would see him return in Sept 2024
‘We are just lucky that we have signed a top player, someone in my position who I used to watch a lot actually. Me and my brother (Matty) used to speak about how good he was and then suddenly he walked through the door at Newcastle and you think, “Oooof! I don’t know if that’s a good thing for me or not?”.
‘I get on really well with him and it’s the same for the whole group. He’s been a massive positive for our group. We have created a friendship and it’s a privilege to be around him every day and watch what he does and watch how he works. You can understand why he’s so good.’
Howe, meanwhile, said that he was still waiting for news on Tonali’s situation.
‘As far as I’m aware, I’m expecting him to be available,’ he said at Tuesday’s pre-match press conference. ‘I will plan like that until told differently. I can’t second guess what will happen. He has trained today and is available.’
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