"I must admit I was a little surprised when my old club paid so much money for Craig but working with Bobby Robson has obviously done wonders for him.
"He has improved markedly since joining United and the Shearer-Bellamy partnership is now one of the most dangerous in the Premiership."
But despite the prospect of attempting to mark the Welsh Wizard Howey is relishing his return to St James’ Park.
"The first time I came back the crowd's reaction was excellent, but on the last occasion it was, shall we say, a little less than warm," he joked.
"When I was collecting the ball at the side of the pitch I could hear a few fans questioning my parentage and another few calling me a Mackem.
"But I enjoy that. It's part of football and the best way to respond is to give a good performance - and hopefully win."
After his great service for the club Howey certainly deserves a great reception before the game tomorrow, but when the whistle goes……..