Newcastle manager Howe says Tonali has 'suffered enough' and hopes for no further ban

Midfielder has been charged by English FA for breaching betting rules while still serving suspension handed out by Italian Football Federation

Sandro Tonali has managed just 12 games for Newcastle since moving from AC Milan last summer. AFP
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Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe believes that midfielder Sandro Tonali has already suffered enough after being charged by for breaching betting rules in England.

The Italian is currently serving a 10-month ban for breaking gambling rules while playing for previous club AC Milan and will not be back in action for Newcastle until August.

And on Thursday, it was revealed that the English Football Association has charged Tonali with misconduct alleging the 23-year-old broke its rules by placing 50 bets on matches between August 12 and October 12, 2023.

In his press conference ahead of Saturday's home Premier League clash with West Ham United, manager Eddie Howe admitted is was unclear whether the Italy international will be hit with a new ban.

“We don't know is the honest answer – I certainly hope for Sandro that there is no further consequences,” said Howe of a player who will also miss out on the Euro 2024 finals this summer. “He has suffered during this period.

“He has seeked [out] help. He has been very honest with us. He has admitted he has an issue. The best thing for Sandro would be for him to resume his career having taken his punishment and learnt a lot of lessons from this.”

Tonali became the most expensive Italian player of all time when he completed his £55 million move to Tyneside in July but has managed just 12 appearances, scoring one goal, due to his suspension.

And while there was surprise when news of his latest charges emerged, Howe admitted the club was aware they were on the horizon.

“It might have been a surprise externally, but not for us,” said Howe, whose team are currently 10th in the Premier League. “He is seeking help on a regular basis.

“It is something that will not be going away. He has regular meetings both here and an Italy to deal with it.

“He has trained really well, and his English has improved. He has the support of his teammates. I am positive about his comeback whenever that is.”

Tonali started his Newcastle career in spectacular fashion scoring six minutes into his debut and produced a man-of-the-match performance as the Magpies trounced Aston Villa 5-1 on the opening weekend of the season.

But that was to prove the high point of his time in a black and white shirt, although he did also start in the team's 4-1 Champions League demolition of Kylian Mbappe's Paris Saint-Germain.

Tonali's final appearances before the ban kicked in came as a second-half substitute in home games against Crystal Palace and Borussia Dortmund when he was given a rousing reception by Newcastle fans.

“The news that there was an FA charge, that illness didn't stop when he moved to England,” added Howe on Friday. “That illness was there and people should look at it that way – not let's throw the book at him and punish him even further because I don't think that gets to the root of the problem.

“We need to protect all our players. This is something that's open to everybody and becoming a bigger problem in society. This isn't just a problem for Sandro.”

In the absence of Tonali – and a nightmare run of injuries that shows no sign of ending – Newcastle have found this season a struggle after the fourth-place finish last campaign.

Their first Champions League campaign in 10 years ended in the group stage after a home defeat to AC Milan meant they finished bottom, missing out on the consolation of dropping down to the Europa League.

They have reached the quarter-finals of both the League Cup and FA Cup, where they lost at Chelsea and Manchester City, respectively.

In the league, Howe's side have already lost 12 games compared to five the entire 2022/23 season when they also enjoyed the joint-best defensive record alongside treble-winning Manchester City, conceding 33 goals. This campaign, 48 goals have hit the back of their net in 28 games.

But there is still the possibility of securing European football next term, albeit with the third-tier Europa Conference League being their best hope.

Newcastle are currently four points behind Saturday's opponents West Ham, with a game in hand on the London club. “We want to be closing that gap,” said Howe. “They have done well, they are a dangerous team.

“We are back at home, we left on a good note in our last game against Wolves [winning 3-0] and we are desperate to carry that on again. This is a home game, expectation will be on us, so we will attack the game in the way we know we can.”

Updated: March 29, 2024, 1:01 PM