EPL

Newcastle’s Sandro Tonali misses Wolves clash after FIFA ratifies 10-month ban

By Sports Desk October 27, 2023

Newcastle midfielder Sandro Tonali has been ruled out of Saturday’s Premier League clash with Wolves after FIFA ratified his 10-month ban.

The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) confirmed on Thursday that the 23-year-old had been suspended until next season after agreeing a plea bargain as part of an investigation into illegal betting activity.

On Friday morning Newcastle said they had yet to be officially informed of the ban, and the £55million summer signing from AC Milan was therefore expected to travel to the Midlands with the rest of the squad.

But FIFA later confirmed the request submitted by the FIGC to extend the sanction it imposed on Tonali to have worldwide effect has now been granted.

Magpies head coach Eddie Howe said at his morning press conference: “It’s a difficult one because we haven’t had official confirmation as a football club yet.

“We’ve heard the news, the statement, but we haven’t had anything from the Italian authorities at the moment, so we’re in limbo, really, waiting for that official confirmation to come through.”

Asked if there was a chance the Italy international could be involved at Molineux, Howe added: “Yes, I think there’s a high chance again that he could be available for us.

“I still think there are a few things that have to happen before the ban is imposed, so let’s see.”

The Italy international was also fined 20,000 euros and will have to undergo eight months of therapy as well as carrying out a series of public appearances.

Tonali found himself at the centre of a probe during this month’s international break into breaches of betting rules and was alleged to have wagered on games involving former clubs Brescia and Milan during his spells with them.

Agent Giuseppe Riso has claimed Tonali is living with a “gambling addiction” and the Magpies have vowed to support him as he attempts to deal with that, but as it stands he remains available for selection at a time when Howe’s midfield resources have been depleted by a back injury which will sideline Elliot Anderson for eight weeks, while Jacob Murphy is awaiting a verdict on the shoulder he dislocated against Dortmund.

The Magpies boss, who will be without striker Alexander Isak following a recurrence of a groin problem, said: “At the moment, he’s travelling with us. We’re preparing as if he’s fit and available to play.”

In the longer term, Howe knows Tonali faces a difficult spell on the sidelines – the club does not yet know whether he will be able to train with his team-mates – and one which will have to be carefully managed.

He said: “Certainly with Sandro’s situation, if he is ultimately banned for that length of time, he’s going to have really difficult moments within that timeframe, a lot of attention on him initially, and that’s a difficult situation for him.

“But then no doubt there’ll be a period where it’s just training – wherever he trains – and no game, and that’s very difficult for any player to adjust to, especially when they’re fit and able to play, so that’s going to be a difficult one.

“The communication between us, me and my coaching staff and him, is going to be hugely important.”

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