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Eddie Howe has expressed his concern for former Newcastle and Bournemouth midfielder Christian Atsu after he was reported missing in the aftermath of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria.

The 31-year-old Ghana international’s whereabouts remain unknown following the disaster in southern Turkey and northern Syria during the early hours of Monday morning after his current club Hatayspor revealed claims that he had been rescued were untrue.

Magpies head coach Howe, who worked with Atsu during a loan spell at Bournemouth from Chelsea during the 2015-16 season, said: “It’s hugely worrying.

“I really, really enjoyed working with Christian, a great lad, great player. Our thoughts are with him and his family.

“We hope for some good news, we hope he’s OK, but we’re really concerned for him and his welfare this week.”

Atsu spent five seasons at Newcastle, the first of them on loan, and helped the club fight its way back into the Premier League before leaving during the summer of 2021, and he is remembered fondly by team-mates and staff alike.

Howe added: “Its been difficult because there have been conflicting stories coming out about his whereabouts, so it’s been very tough. I can’t imagine how his family are feeling.

“But from the bottom of our hearts, we wish him well and hope there’s a positive ending.”

Howe’s comments came as he prepared to take his current club to the one at which he made his name as a manager in two spells before leaving in the wake of Bournemouth’s relegation from the top flight at the end of the 2019-20 campaign.

That disappointment came almost eight years after his return at the end of a hugely successful period for the south-coast outfit, although with hindsight the 45-year-old, who has guided Newcastle into the top four and to the Carabao Cup final this season, admits his time had probably come.

He said: “I always think there is a shelf life for a manager and I had probably reached that point where for the football club, I needed to move, really.

“I definitely felt going into that last season. It was totally different, unique due to Covid, and the ending of that season was so disappointing.

“I still do not believe we – Bournemouth – would have been relegated if there had not been Covid because the supporters made such a difference.”

Howe will have record signing Alexander Isak available after he missed last weekend’s 1-1 draw with West Ham under concussion protocols, but influential midfielder Bruno Guimaraes will sit out again as he serves the second instalment of his three-match ban.