Eddie Howe is confident Newcastle will protect themselves to prevent sporting director Dan Ashworth from taking inside knowledge with him to Manchester United.

The PA news agency understands United want the former Football Association technical director to oversee a new era at Old Trafford in the wake of Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s arrival as co-owner.

Ashworth was recruited by Newcastle’s new owners from Brighton to perform a similar role 20 months ago, and his loss would represent a significant blow to their project on Tyneside and to their hopes of competing with a direct rival for the trophies and Champions League football they crave.

Newcastle boss Eddie Howe wants Dan Ashworth's situation to be resolved swiftlyNewcastle boss Eddie Howe wants Dan Ashworth’s situation to be resolved swiftly (Bradley Collyer/PA)

Asked if the detailed intelligence the 52-year-old possesses about his current employers and their blueprint was a concern, head coach Howe replied: “I think your concerns are relevant. I don’t know quite how much I can say on that, but I share your feelings.”

He added: “It goes without saying that we’re very protective of what’s ours, whether that’s players or staff. If people do eventually move on to other clubs, there’s a process to go through before that is reality.”

Howe insisted there had, as of Friday morning, been no formal contact between the clubs, but was candid when asked if Ashworth had told him he wanted to remain at St James’ Park amid the whirl of speculation in recent days.

He said simply: “No.”


United’s interest in Ashworth, who is credited with establishing England’s DNA during his time with the FA, is long-standing and the Magpies have been aware of the situation for some time.

They themselves prised him free from Brighton – he resigned from his role at the AMEX Stadium in February 2022, but did not take up his new post until June of the same year after lengthy negotiations which eventually resulted in a sizeable compensation payment.

United would have to enter into a similar arrangement to secure his services sooner than the terms of his contract at Newcastle stipulate, but there is an acceptance on Tyneside that matters are coming to a head and the sooner the situation is resolved, the better.

Howe said: “At some stage there has to be a line drawn and things have to move forward.

“The club will always move forward. We’ve got some very good people in all departments doing some outstanding work that people don’t see.

“The club is hugely ambitious and that has never changed. I’ve got no doubt the club will be successful in the future.”

Howe’s comments came as he prepared his team for Saturday’s Premier League clash with former club Bournemouth at St James’, a game England striker Callum Wilson will miss with a pectoral muscle injury for which he was due to undergo surgery on Friday and which is likely to sideline him for the bulk of what is left of the season, putting his Euro 2024 hopes in doubt.

Howe said: “We hoped initially he could carry on – and he felt good, actually, Callum, felt functionally fine. He was moving his arm and had full strength.

“But when he went to see a specialist, I think it was apparent quite early that he needed it operating on and I think he’s having that operation as we speak.”