Every game this season is important for Newcastle United, but tonight’s game is particularly vital.
And that’s because Newcastle fans are still not sure whether our players are really good enough for promotion this season, although of course we all hope they are.
After a terrific start to the season, when we hammered Ipswich Town 4-0 in a game that was televised live around the world, and was the best performance from a Newcastle team for a long long time – we have gone off the boil.
After that game we had 22 points from just 9 games, with a goal difference of +13, and 4 points clear of 3rd placed Preston – that was on 26th September.
But in our last 5 games we’ve got just another meager 5 points, and now have just 27 points from our 14 games, with a goal difference of +12.
So if we are to press on for promotion, we need to start getting some clean sheets and put a good win streak together. In the last 5 games we’ve conceded five goals and scored only four, so while the defensive record is OK, we need to score a lot more goals.
On the injury side of things we have Barton and Ameobi on the long term injury list, and Georgian International Zurab Khizanishvili is suspended for 3 games, after being sent off last time out against Doncaster.
And we don’t think Steven Taylor will make it tonight, and we certainly should not risk him if there are any doubts at all.
But we do expect Coloccini and Danny Simpson to return to the side, and make no mistake about it, Fabricio Coloccini can be a vital player for the side this season – so we have to hope he comes back in top form tonight.
Fabricio is more than good in the second division, even though there are existing doubts about him being a good Premier League player.
Alan Smith also returns, and will captain the side, after his one match suspension, having accumulated 5 yellow cards in his fist 13 games this season.
The team will almost pick itself tonight and we expect Chris to go with the following side:
Simpson Coloccini Kadar Enrique
Guthrie Smith (c) Nolan Gutierrez
Subs: Krul Tozer Geremi Butt Lovenkrands Harewood Taylor R,
That looks like a fairly strong line-up and we hope Chris will unleash (that’s probably the best way to describe it) youngsters Carroll and Ranger up front.
The subs bench is also strong, and we have to hope that players like Lovenkrands, Geremi, Harewood and Butt can make a bigger impact than they’ve managed so far this season.
Danish International Peter Lovenkrands in particular has been very disappointing.
And let’s hope that 18 year-old promising youngster Nile Ranger, who we are told some big clubs will be after in the January transfer window, gets his first senior goal for the club, after playing so well so far this season.
This lad seems to give 100% in every game he plays for the Tyneside club, and is rapidly becoming a firm fan favorite at Newcastle. He is definitely one for the future at Newcastle.
And we dont want any bad news surprises just before kick-off tonight, like we got just before the Doncaster game, when we were told both Colccini and Simpson were out injured.
Surely Coloccini is now fit enough to start a game, after being out for the last 5 games, in which we have not fared too well, at all.
On the Blades’ side of things Jordan Stewart is on standby to replace Andy Taylor at left-back, and the side seems to have a number of injury problems for the game tonight.
They are on a a three game losing streak, and it’s been seven games since the Blades won a game, that was their 3-2 win against rivals Sheffield Wednesday at Bramall Lane on Friday, 18th September.
Midfielder Nick Montgomery is out with medial knee ligament damage, and former Everton player Gary Naysmith is also out with a knee injury.
Goalkeeper Paddy Kenny remains out because of his drugs ban, while injuries continue to trouble Jamie Ward (broken wrist), Lee Williamson (back), Derek Geary and Andrew Davies (knee) – and striker Richard Cresswell is also doubtful with a rib injury.
This is an example of a game where Newcastle must take advantage of a weakened Sheffield United side, but we don’t think it will be easy tonight.
Let’s put it this way – there will be growing doubts about a Newcastle promotion this season, if we cannot take all 3 points tonight, when most things, including a weakened Blades’ side, seem to be in our favor.
Howay The Lads!!