Now that we know promotion is so important for Newcastle to achieve this season, the game at Watford tomorrow now takes on even more importance.
We heard this week that Newcastle were losing around £2M a month in the Championship, due to the wage bill still being a whopping £40M/year, so it’s important in the remaining 14 league games that the team pick up just as many points as possible to secure that promotion.
And since we have not won in our last 7 away games, tomorrow would be an excellent time to end that miserable streak.
On the injury front things are not too good, with in-form striker Peter Lovenkrands still having problems with the hamstring injury he picked up in the 3-0 win over Preston last Saturday.
Wayne Routledge (calf), Jose Enrique (hamstring) and Nicky Butt (thigh) are also not available through injury, although the latter two are expected to be ready for the next game – at home to Barnsley a week tomorrow, 6th March.
Long term casualty Joey Barton (foot) is back in training, but still some weeks from a return and injury prone Shola Ameobi (hamstring) is still not available, and has missed far too many games through injury this season.
Steven Taylor (medial ligament) remains sidelined and is not expected to return for at least another month.
Given the injuries we have, and assuming manager Chris Hughton plays his usual 4-5-1 formation away from home – here’s the team we expect for tomorrow afternoon.
Simpson Coloccini Williamson van Aanholt
Pancrate Guthrie Smith (c) Nolan Gutierrez
Subs: Krul Kadar Hall Taylor (R) Best Ranger Donaldson
That’s a decent team and can also score some goals – hopefully.
Mike Williamson is returning to one of his former clubs, and we expect another strong performance from the 6’4″ center-back, alongside our impressive Argentine International Fabricio Coloccini.
And this could well be the last game for left back Patrick van Aanholt, on loan from Chelsea, and the lad’s been just great during his month on Tyneside.
The keys to a win for Newcastle will be another strong defensive showing, and players like Carroll and Nolan taking their chances when they get them, but we expect the game to be close.
On the Watford side, Manchester United loan player Tom Cleverley will miss the game, after the midfielder was sent off last weekend and starts a three-match ban.
It will by no means be an easy game for Newcastle, but we think with the news that Newcastle must grab promotion this season, the players will have that little bit more incentive to get the win.
Comments very welcome – let us know which team you would field tomorrow afternoon.