Why Newcastle United star Sandro Tonali is ‘likely’ to play v Wolves despite ban

Wolves host Newcastle United in a Premier League clash at Molineux on Saturday afternoon
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Newcastle United boss Eddie Howe has said there is a high possibility that midfielder Sandro Tonali will play against Wolves on Saturday despite receiving a 10-month ban from football.

The 23-year-old summer signing from AC Milan was banned by the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) on Thursday for a breach of betting rules, but Howe says Newcastle are in limbo as they have yet to receive confirmation of the ban which has not been ratified by Uefa and Fifa.

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A statement from the FIGC on Thursday confirmed Tonali been banned for betting on football. The statement added the Newcastle midfielder had agreed to an 18-month suspension but eight months of that will be part of "a therapeutic plan" to help "recovery from gambling addiction", meaning his ban from the pitch will last just 10 months.

Howe said on Friday ahead of the Magpies' clash with Wolves: "It's difficult because we haven't had that official confirmation as a football club yet. We've heard the news and speculation 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. I think there's a high chance he could be available for us. There has to be a few things that have to happen before the ban is imposed so let's see."

Howe said Newcastle had no knowledge of the potential betting breaches when Tonali signed for the Magpies. They have now been linked with a loan move for former Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves, who moved to Al-Hilal for £47million in the summer. Both Newcastle and Al-Hilal are majority owned by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund.

"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. It shows nobody knows what tomorrow will bring. It is a valuable lesson. We need a squad robust enough to deal with these things. It is part of life and football."

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