England manager Steve McClaren visited the Newcastle United training complex today.
Itâ€™s quite easy for Steve to visit Newcastle since he still lives in the Middlesbrough area (after managing Middlesbrough) even though he finally took the England job last year.
The former Middlesbrough boss was quick to accept an invitation from pal Sam Allardyce and United first- team coach Steve Round, to attend the Newcastle training center today, where he could check up on Michael Owen, Alan Smith, James Milner and Steven Taylor.
Steve McClaren – England coach at the Newcastle training ground at Benton today
If Russia beat Israel on November 17, Englandâ€™s last game in their Euro 2008 campaign against Croatia at Wembley four days later will be meaningless and we fully expect McClaren to be fired as England manager. But all is not yet lost although itâ€™s now out of Englandâ€™s hands after they woefully capitulated against Russia when they conceded two goals in 3 minutes.
We hope for the best but itâ€™s only Englandâ€™s fault if they donâ€™t qualify â€“ they simply were not good enough against Russia â€“ and it will hard to take if we are not in the European Finals next summer.
For the Newcastle game on Saturday against Portsmouth, who we usually play well against, at least at home – we are hoping Mark Viduka will be fit again. The Australian international has taken over a month to recover from the slight calf injury he picked up in the defeat at Manchester City. You cannot say Mark isnâ€™t injury prone, and we had hoped that Sam could alleviate some of Markâ€™s injury difficulties but so far â€“ not so good, on that one. But itâ€™s unfair on both Sam and Mark to expect immediate results on the injury front, but weâ€™re sure Sam is thinking very hard how to get Mark fit for more games.
Full-backs Stephen Carr and Celestine Babayaro are now almost back from injury, two other players in the squad who seem always to be out injured. Weâ€™re not at all sure these two are now good enough for the Newcastle defense. Weâ€™d expect that Sam would offload them in January â€“ if he can get buyers â€“ but if not their contracts will run out in the summer â€“ and we donâ€™t expect them to be renewed.
Damien Duff is still about a month away from full match fitness â€“ even though PhysioRoom.Com has indicated for many months Damien’s return date to full training was November 3rd.
The date has only recently been put back to November 24th â€“ so Damienâ€™sâ€™ foot injury is taking longer to heal than first thought. We have 8 games in 33 days coming up starting December 1st, so we’ll need all these players fit, and ready to go by that time. December is going to be a very important month for Newcastle – that’s for sure.
Comments always welcome.