Newcastle take on WBA for the second time in 6 days this afternoon, this time at the Hawthorns in the 4th round of the famous FA Cup.
Chris Hughton will no doubt play some of the youngsters today, but not too many, as he will want to stay in the FA Cup and extend Newcastle’s current unbeaten run to 15 games.
The last time Newcastle tasted defeat was the humbling defeat away to Scunthorpe on Tuesday, 20th October, and that was just 3 days after we also went down to Nottingham Forest, both games being on the road.
We took over a day to recover from those two losses, as readers may remember, as our blog went silent for 24 hours as we tried to recover from the apparent devastation. 😀
As far as we know Newcastle have all their players available, except Joey Barton and Peter Lovenkrands, who is on compassionate leave following the death of his father. Geremi is on International duty at the African Cup of Nations with Cameroon, and may have had a rare start has he been available for this game.
Late news is that Steven Taylor suffered a knee injury in training on Thursday and will not be in the squad today.
We expect both Tim Krul and Tamas Kadar to start this game, and perhaps even 18 year-old Nile Ranger, so here’s a side that we could field today at the Hawthorns:
Taylor (R) Kadar Coloccini Enrique
Pancrate Smith Guthrie Gutierrez
Subs: Harper Simpson Tozer Nolan Donaldson Butt Carroll
That’s a team that doesn’t have Kevin Nolan in the starting line-up to give young Danny Guthrie a run out in central midfield, although Chris may think that’s too much of a risk. Frenchman Pancrate will also get another chance to impress on the right wing, and he will need to start playing well if he is to get a new contract in the summer.
Let’s know what you think the team will be for this afternoon’s tie.
Roberto Di Matteo seems to have no injury worries either and has the same squad available to him from last Monday, when his team played some great attacking football at St. James’ Park.
James Morrison (heel injury) is the only West Brom injury victim, but is not expected back before the end of the month, and Abdoulaye Meite is still on African Nations Cup duty with Ivory Coast.
It is not yet known if he will make any changes to the starting eleven in that game.
The WBA performance was just what their fans wanted to see, after they had been outplayed by a surging Nottingham Forest side at the Hawthorns. Good sides always come back strongly from their defeats.
This game is a tricky one, because it’s not the club’s priority this season, but some funny things can happen in football, and if we can get through this tie, who knows, we may get an easy draw at home and could be through to the 6th round.
But that’s all woulda coulda shoulda – and this afternoon’s game will be tough, and the Newcastle defense will need to be a lot better than they performed in the first half last Monday night.
Young Kadar has another chance to show how quickly he’s progressed this season, and Tim Krul will certainly get a run-out in goal. Both lads will be making their 7th appearance this season, and we expect 18 year Nile Ranger to make his 26th appearance this season.
Chris Hughton is certainly doing a good job of bringing on the youngsters this season, and these three are our most promising along with the currently injured 17 year old Haris Vuckic, who has appeared just 3 times so far this season for the first team.
It promises to be another terrific game this afternoon, and really either side could win on the day, but we have a sneaking suspicion the lads may just produce that bit extra to see us through to the 5th round – we hope so anyway.