We have an important FA Cup 3rd round replay tonight and the very last thing we want to happen is to be beaten.
Stoke City have never beaten us in the FA Cup, but they are the in-form team, and are unbeaten through 12 games since 10th November. Stoke have to fancy their chances because of all the upheaval currently going on at Newcastle with a new manager unlikely to be appointed until late in the week or over the weekend.
In Samâ€™s last game in charge at Stoke Sam looked absolutely delighted to have gained a 0-0 draw against the Championship side but that seemed not good enough for Chairman Mort and owner Ashley who sacked Sam late last Wednesday afternoon.
Newcastle played well in defense in that game, which is something we cannot say about our 6-0 thrashing at Old Trafford on Saturday when all the goals came in the second half. Tonight will be the first time Nigel Pearson has managed a side at St. Jamesâ€™ Park, and we expect another attacking side to line up.
Not available because of African of Nations Cup duty are defenders Faye and Beye, along with defensive midfielder Geremi and striker Martins. Both defensive midfielder Butt, and Alan Smith will miss this game and the game against Bolton on Saturday because of suspension. Joey Barton is back in training, but suspended by his conditions of bail.
Joey will also be appearing today in front of the Liverpool magistrates so weâ€™ll report what happens there later today.
We need to find somebody to play defensive midfield but we would like this side to line up in a 4-4-2 formation:
Carr Taylor Cacapa Enrique
Milner Zog Emre Duff
Subs: Harper Edgar Carroll Lua Lua Rozehnal
Charles N’Zogbia – defensive midfield tonight?Â
Itâ€™s also possible that Pearson could play Rozehnal in the holding midfield position, but Davidâ€™s looked a little dicey in his last few games. We think the in-form N’Zogbia should be able to do a better job there tonight, and the young Frenchman will certainly not let the side down.
Stoke City have injuries at full back, where both Wilkinson and Dickinson face late tests, and former Newcastle player Andy Griffin is apparently cup tied.
We would hope we can get through this tie so we can face Arsenal at the Emirates with our new manager. If necessary the game will go to extra time and penalties. The players have to produce tonight and get us through to the next round of the FA Cup – they owe the supporters that at least after Saturday’s terrible second half performance.