Newcastle will have Andy Carroll back for the game against Bolton tomorrow, but it’s unlikely the 20 year old will get a start up front, in another crucial 6 pointer for the Magpies.
With Kevin Nolan starting the first of a 3 match suspension tomorrow, and with both Joey Barton and Danny Guthrie still being unfit, stand-in manager Chris Hughton will need to decide who starts in central midfield alongside the experienced Nicky Butt for tomorrow’s game.
Michael Owen, Habib Beye, and Uruguayan Nacho Gonzalez are also not fit for tomorrow’s game, and will take no part.
Ryan Taylor played in central midfield in the second half last Sunday against Everton and did quite well, and it may be he will be given a chance there again.
But Alan Smith is fit again, at last, and could also play alongside Butt. While Geremi would be the more obvious replacement for Nolan, the Cameroon International has not played well recently, and we don’t expect him to start.
Decisions also for Chris Hughton as to who to start up front for the two strikers, and surely a place will be found for Oba Martins, now fully fit from his groin strain, and raring to go for Newcastle tomorrow.
We thought that Shola Ameobi looked particularly poor last week, and it could be that Lovenkrands starts up front or Mark Viduka, who is presumably fully fit again and could be used.
There are also 3 players – Ryan Taylor, Jonas Gutierrez and Damien Duff fighting it out for the two wide positions, with Peter Lovenkrands also a possible starter on one of the wings.
So there are plenty of different combinations Chris Hughton can go with tomorrow, which is indicative of more players returning from injury – at long last.
This is the side we think Hughton will field tomorrow at The Reebok:
S.Taylor Coloccini Bassong Enrique
Duff R.Taylor Butt (c) Gutierrez
Subs: Forster Cacapa Smith Geremi Lovenkrands Ameobi Carroll
Again that is a decent team, with plenty of experience, and the bench is strong.
It may be a bit of a gamble to start Mark Viduka, who has hardly been fit at all this season, but he’s got class and should be motivated to do well for Newcastle tomorrow.
There is still a slim hope he may possibly get a contract extension at Newcastle in the summer, though slim at best. If Mark doesn’t start we’d like to see Andy Carroll given a start before Ameobi, since Andy is now fit again following his ankle injury aagainst Sunderland.
However, there is also a decent likelihood that Hughton will stick with Shola.
The keys for Newcastle tomorrow are to put in another very good performance in defense, and we again look to Bassong and Coloccini to be solid as a rock, at the back, with full backs Taylor and Enrique again in good form, and Harps being safe as houses in goal, as he usually is.
Newcastle will need some goalscoring prowess in the team, which is why Carroll and Lovenmkrands could both be used a substitutes tomorrow, with Alan Smith possibly getting 45 minutes in midfield, depending on how Ryan Taylor performs alongside Nicky Butt.
This is a game Newcastle can win, and with Middlesbrough surprisingly beating Liverpool 2-0 this afternoon at The Riverside (Liverpool looked hopeless), and now only a couple of points behind Newcastle in the league, we could do with all 3 points. Bolton fans will no doubt be saying the very same thing.
A win will also see Newcastle leap-frog Bolton, who currently have 30 points, two more than the Magpies.
Bolton had an excellent win last week at the Reebok by beating a good West Ham Side 2-1, after being a couple of goals up in the first 11 minutes through Matthew Taylor and Kevin Davies.
Bolton manager Gary Megson could very well name an unchanged side for the game tomorrow, and Swedish striker Johan Elmander looks likely to retain his place in the team, after making his comeback from a hamstring injury last weekend.
Striker Kevin Davies will be a danger man for Newcastle and somebody that Coloccini will need to mark closely, just like he handled Brazilian Jol very well last Sunday.
Howay The Lads!!