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Eddie Howe: Newcastle boss says Carabao Cup semi-final means nothing if they don't reach final

Newcastle play Southampton in the Carabao Cup semi-finals; Eddie Howe's side have not reached that stage of the competition since 1976; watch Southampton vs Newcastle on Tuesday, live on Sky Sports Football and Main Event from 7pm; kick-off 8pm

File photo dated 22-01-2022 of Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe who is facing a race against time to have record signing Alexander Isak available for Wednesday night's Premier League trip to Liverpool. Issue date: Tuesday August 30, 2022.
Image: Eddie Howe is one stage from leading Newcastle to their first domestic cup final since 1999

Eddie Howe says everybody at Newcastle is proud of what they have achieved this season - but admits reaching the last four of the Carabao Cup will mean nothing if they don't progress to the final.

Howe's side are enjoying a fine campaign, currently sitting third in the Premier League and looking forward to a two-legged Carabao Cup semi-final against Southampton.

The first leg is at St Mary's on Tuesday - live on Sky Sports - and will be just the second time Newcastle have been playing for a place in the final in the competition's 63-year history.

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Howe - who was born in 1977, one year after Newcastle last played in the Carabao Cup semi-finals - said: "We're delighted to be where we are, but the semi-final isn't enough.

"To say you got into a semi-final means nothing. We want to go one step further and I know the players feel the same way."

Newcastle's most recent appearance in a domestic cup final came in 1999, when they were beaten 2-0 by Manchester United at Wembley in the FA Cup.

But when asked whether reaching the semi-finals this year represents an achievement, given the club's inauspicious record in cup competitions, Howe said: "It's dangerous for me to answer that with a 'yes' because then it sets a dangerous ceiling mentally.

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"We're proud to be where we are, but we want more, and all season the players have shown that mentality."

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Crystal Palace’s draw against Newcastle in the Premier League last weekend

Newcastle supporters will be desperate to return to Wembley for a domestic cup final for the first time this millennium, but Howe says - while understanding the importance of the back-to-back fixtures against Southampton - he cannot allow it cloud his approach to the tie.

"Leading the club is something I don't take lightly," explained Howe. "But I don't feel burdened by any external pressure. I don't think I could live like that.

"I understand the importance of the games to everybody - me included - but I try to approach the games in the same way: being very analytical in the build up, understanding our opponent.

"We trust our training and our work, and then sit back and see the results in the game. You have to have that mindset where you're not too emotionally involved in the game."

Howe added: "We want it to be a tie for the supporters and the only way we can guarantee that is by performing at our best.

"I think the away game will be a really good spectacle for the fans that travel. It’s on telly so everyone will get a chance to watch the game, and then the home game will be a very special night.

"Our job is to make sure we’re in a good position going into that tie."

Howe: We want to strengthen in attack

Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe applauds the fans after the Emirates FA Cup third round match at the Hillsborough Stadium, Sheffield. Picture date: Saturday January 7, 2023.
Image: Chris Wood joined Nottingham Forest this month

The second leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final will be on the evening of Deadline Day, but Howe says Newcastle are continuing to work on adding to their squad following Chris Wood's exit.

Garang Kuol is the Magpies' only January signing to date - and the Australian winger has already left the club on loan to join Hearts until the end of the season.

Goals have begun to desert Newcastle slightly in recent weeks, with just four scored in their last six games in all competitions, and Howe admitted: "It's no secret - losing Chris was a blow to us.

"We're not necessarily looking for a like-for-like transfer, but someone that can boost us in the attacking areas.

"The club are trying. There’s no positive news to give you, but there’s a lot of work going on."

Howe also dismissed reports linking Jonjo Shelvey with a January move, despite the midfielder making just three Premier League appearances this season.

"I’ve been surprised with all the speculation," he said. "I’ve got no idea where that’s come from.

"It’s certainly not coming from us. Jonjo’s a very valued member of the squad."

Follow the January transfer window with Sky Sports

Who will be on the move this winter? The January transfer window opens on Sunday January 1, 2023 and closes at 11pm on Tuesday January 31, 2023.

Keep up to date with all the latest transfer news and rumours in our dedicated Transfer Centre blog on Sky Sports' digital platforms. You can also catch up with the ins, outs and analysis on Sky Sports News.

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