Newcastle take on Barnsley tonight in the second round of the Carling Cup, in what is probably Newcastle’s best chance to win something in Sam Allardyce’s first season in charge of the club.
It looks if we get through this tie we’ll be in the last 32 teams in the competition – so there’s still quite a way to go to get to Wembley, which has to be our goal in this competition.
There’ll be 24 teams that get through the second round ties and they will then be joined in the draw for the third round by sides in Europe this year – Arsenal, Blackburn, Bolton, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Man United and Spurs. Last year we missed this tie because of our European qualification.
The interesting thing about tonight’s game will be the team, and Sam has already indicated he will give starts to Michael Owen and Shola Ameobi up front. Cacapa and Enrique will also make their full debts for the team in defense.
Jose Enrique – makes his Newcastle debut tonight
Owen and Ameobi have played together in pre-season in the first half at Hartlepool, and they looked good together and both played well. This is a second partnership that contrasts with the Viduka Martins partnership, so it will be interesting to see how they play. Certainly both players need a full game tonight.
It will also be interesting to see Claudio Cacapa in central defense since we’ll need all of his experience in the league games ahead and it will then be an interesting choice between Taylor and Rozehnal as to who fills the other central defense position. Fans will also get their first look at Julio Enrique who has now had a couple of weeks to settle into the club. We know he’s a good player and still only 21 years old so he will also be a player to watch.
Emre is back from injury and the Turk should also get some playing time. Seems like we’ve lacked a bit of creativity in midfield so its a good chance for Emre to shine tonight. Nobby Solano also needs a game and we’d love to see him have a run out at right back – not sure Sam is aware of just how good he played in that position last year.
We would also expect to see Shay Given making a start again in goal and Shay’s been included in the Ireland side for their European games coming up, so we are hoping he’s over his groin problems. Not sure what Sam and his staff have done with Shay, other than to try to strengthen his groin which has looked weak since he had that terrible bowel injury against West Ham last year.
So it will be all change for the team tonight, but Sam gets a chance to look at some of his new players and those coming back from injury. We must win this game and we cannot under-estimate Barnsley. They have played three Championship games so far and have won one, lost one and drawn one. A win tonight is the only acceptable result for Newcastle and hopefully we will not have to go to either extra time or penalties to achieve that.
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