Newcastle United boss Eddie Howe acknowledges his side’s title challenge presents different pitfalls in the transfer market, as his side prepare to restart their Premier League season with a trip to Leicester City.

The Magpies lie third in the table, behind only Arsenal and Manchester City, with the fruits of last year’s transitional season to new ownership paying off following the ex-Bournemouth man’s steady accumulation of transfer targets.

Several of those, such as Kieran Trippier, Bruno Guimaraes, Nick Pope and Alexander Isak, have contributed to Newcastle’s new status as a title contender, with more fresh faces set to arrive, but Howe acknowledges the increased risks of brushing against financial rules could hinder their quest.

“We’re in a very different position to where we were last year, when we knew we needed to act and get some good numbers through the door to try to lift the group,” he stated.

“Now we’re also in a different position with Financial Fair Play – last year we didn’t have a legacy of transfer fees so we had a gap that we could attack. I’m not evading the question but we are unsure what we want the window to look like, we’re not sure what’s going to happen.

“You’ve got to be very careful in my position that you don’t do something that unsettles the group but you’ve also got to be mindful of the fact you don’t want a group that is stale. Getting that balance right is crucial.”

Opposite number Brendan Rodgers meanwhile was effusive in his assessment of the Magpies’ campaign to date, suggesting they are growing the club in a smart manner.

“They’ve made a great start,” he added. “Eddie’s done a fantastic job. On the field, they’ve signed players who have really improved the squad and team. The players they’ve brought into the backline in particular give them that dominance and give them a base for the rest of the team.

“Off the field, you bring in (sporting director) Dan Ashworth who is a top operator. The supporters give a great intensity to the game. They’re trying to build something and they’re doing it the right way.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Leicester – Harvey Barnes

The winger has very much been the man with the magic touch for the Foxes this year. He’s scored six goals this season, and has netted in all of Leicester’s wins to date this term too, with only Leeds forward Rodrigo achieving a similar feat.

Newcastle – Miguel Almiron

The Paraguay international was one of the most in-form players before the break, having been involved in eight goals over his eight previous Premier League games. That figure includes seven finishes and an assist for Joe Willock’s winner against Chelsea last time out.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– After winning just three of their first 17 Premier League meetings with Newcastle (D5 L9), Leicester have now won nine of their last 13 against the Magpies (L4).

– Newcastle have won two of their last three Premier League games against Leicester (L1), as many as they had in their previous 10 (L8). They’ve won three of their last five at the King Power Stadium but have lost the other two by 5-0 and 4-0 margins.

– Since returning to the Premier League in 2014, Leicester have won just one of their eight games played on Boxing Day (D1 L6), with that coming in 2018 against eventual champions Manchester City.

– Newcastle have lost their last six league games played on Boxing Day, since beating Stoke 5-1 in 2013. The last team to lose more consecutively on this day in the top four tiers of English football were Walsall (7 between 1949 and 1957).

– Having conceded 22 goals in their opening seven Premier League games this season, Leicester have conceded just three in their last eight, keeping six clean sheets in the process. The Foxes are looking to win three consecutive league games for the first time since January 2021.