Sam Allardyce has some difficult decisions to make with his team selection now that we have only 4 players injured.
Emre and Barton are both back in contention and both appear as fit as theyâ€™ve been for a long time.
Joey, in particular is itching to get back, and heâ€™ll surely get a huge ovation from the crowd tonight when he finally makes his appearance.
Sam Allardyce – team selection will get tougher next year when new players come during January
Barton’s enthusiasm at the club has been infectious since he’s been here and we think Joey can assist us in getting all 3 points tonight. However, it will be almost impossible for Big Sam to keep all the players happy since he can only start 11 in any game and have just 5 on the substitutes’ bench. With the squad so strong these days there are going to be good players who will not even make the substitutes bench for some games.
But we also expect Sam to rebuild during January so the competition for paces will become even more competitive in the new year.
The former Bolton manager is prepared to speak to any player who feels he has been treated unfairly and Big Sam never allows bad feeling to continue â€“ thatâ€™s just very bad for morale.
Allardyce told The Daily Mirror today:
“Players at some stage will walk out of the training ground and they won’t like me.â€
“Some players will be fine however you’ve dealt with them on that day. Whatever you’ve done, someone walks out of the training ground dissatisfied with you.â€
“It’s all part of life as a manager because you have to make decisions some of the players don’t like or don’t agree with.”
“They can come and discuss it like men and then get on with it.â€
“I wake up the next day and whatever’s gone on has gone on. Basically most of the time it’s the players fault not mine – they drop themselves.”
Big Sam is also expected to bring in a crop of new players in the January transfer window and thatâ€™s what the squad needs to further increase its strength ready for the run-in next year. Newcastle will lose the services of four key players, who will participate in the African Cup.
Striker Obafemi Martins, skipper Geremi and defenders Habib Beye and Abdoulaye Faye are expected to all be required for the African Cup of Nations duty in January.
“I lose four, but most of the country loses a similar amount these days.â€
“I think there’s only Manchester United who do not have an African Nations player playing. Most of the other teams do.â€
“It’s a difficult period. The January window is something for me to talk about with Chris (Mort), the chairman, and try to plan for that as soon as we can and see what comes about.”
As we’ve mentioned we expect Sam to bring in more good players during January to put further pressure on selection. But we also expect some to be let go and Babayaro, Carr and Ameobi have to be high on that list of players superfluous to requirements. If they are not moved out in January they will not be part of the squad at the start of next season – that’s for sure.
Comments very welcome.