‘High chance’ Tonali plays despite ban – Howe

Newcastle United’s Italy international Sandro Tonali’s ban for breaches of rules on betting on matches will apply worldwide, soccer’s governing body said on Friday, meaning the midfielder is currently unable to play for the Premier League side.

Newcastle manager Eddie Howe earlier said that Tonali could still play this weekend because the Premier League club hadn’t been officially informed of the ban.

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“The request submitted by the Italian Football Association to extend the sanction it imposed on the player Sandro Tonali on [Friday] to have worldwide effect has been granted,” FIFA said in a statement.

The Italian federation said Thursday that Tonali was given a ban that would rule him out of the rest of the Premier League season as well as next year’s European Championship should Italy qualify.

The 23-year-old Tonali, who became the second player suspended in the widening case, agreed to a plea bargain with the federation that included therapy for a gambling addiction.

Ahead of Saturday’s game at Wolverhampton, Howe said there was a “high chance again that he could be available for us” because the club hadn’t received official confirmation.

Tonali’s ban is a huge setback to Newcastle who signed the midfielder from AC Milan in July for a deal worth €70 million ($76.28m), a record sum for an Italian player.

Italian federation president Gabriele Gravina said Tonali was suspended for 18 months but that eight of those months were commutable by attending treatment for gambling addiction and making at least 16 public appearances at centers for young football players and associations for recovering addicts.

Howe said Newcastle had no inkling 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.”

Tonali came on as a substitute in Newcastle’s 1-0 home loss to Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Wednesday.

The defeat was made worse by injuries to forwards Alexander Isak and Jacob Murphy who will miss the Wolves match.

“Very different injuries, Alex is a groin which we don’t think is serious but it’s a recurrence of the groin injury he suffered playing for Sweden so we need to assess that,” Howe added.

“Jacob’s is totally different it’s dislocation of his shoulder. It’s not clear what we’re going to do and I think he’s going to see a specialist today. You can play with these injuries or the other side is he needs an operation and he’ll be out for some time.”

Injuries have also ruled out defender Sven Botman and midfielder Elliot Anderson while Harvey Barnes will be missing until the new year with a foot injury.

“Unfortunately we’re missing Harvey [Barnes], Elliot, Alex now and suddenly with Jacob we look a bit stretched.”

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