Newcastle do have a few injury worries today for the game with Bristol City at Ashton Gate, and we have a sneaking suspicion that Nicky Butt will get a game.
Peter Lovenkrands is touch and go for this afternoon, and if there is any doubt at all about the in-form striker, he will not be risked, he’s just too valuable to Newcastle right now with 12 goals so far in 2010.
Newcastle have a game on Tuesday night at Doncaster Rovers, and the Dane could well be fit for that game, if he is rested today.
Since Chris Hughton doesn’t seem to play anybody who seems even slightly injured, so we don’t expect Peter to be in the team today, but he could be on the bench just in case, but we doubt that too.
Alan Smith is still out and will presumably be available for the big game against Nottingham Forest a week on Monday night, so this could be a game in which Nicky Butt gets a start.
The back four picks itself with Mike Williamson and Steven Taylor still out injured, and we expect Newcastle manager Hughton to play a 4-5-1 with Lovenkrands not being available.
This is the side we expect to line up for a 5:20 pm kick-off this afternoon.
Simpson Coloccini Hall Enrique
Routledge Butt Nolan Guthrie Gutierrez
Subs: Krul Kadar Ranger Best Pancrate Taylor (R) Barton
The formation is 4-5-1 with Nolan playing just behind Carroll, so some would call that a 4-4-1-1 formation.
With the injuries we have it seems there is room on the bench for Joey Barton, and as we’ve indicated we think it’s a perfect time for Nicky Butt to start with Alan Smith and Lovenkrands both being out.
It was great to get a clean sheet on Wednesday night when Newcastle showed they are just too good for some teams in the Championship, and Scunthorpe was on the receiving end of an onslaught, with the only mystery being why it was only 3-0.
Newcastle look that good when they are playing at home so today’s game at Bristol City is a good chance for the lads to show they can also do it on the road.
A key to the game will be another solid performance from the defense, which still look strong, even though Steven and Mike are out.
All eyes will be on Fitz Hall at the back, but most new central defenders coming in seem to gain from the vast experience of Argentine Fabricio Coloccini, and he will be working to ensure he and Fitz have a good understanding.
Certainly Coloccini has this season proved himself to be a great professional by his dedication and application to the Newcastle cause.
21 year-old Andy Carroll up front is in scintillating form and with Danny Guthrie in his preferred position in the center of the park, the midfielder could lay on some chances for the big man up front.
Danny’s done that in other games when he’s been in the center, and Danny could even get one for himself today.
With Bristol City manager Gary Johnson leaving the club on Thursday by mutual consent, there could be a positive reaction from the Bristol City players, but it’s more what Newcastle do this afternoon than what the Robins do.
The game is being televised around the world it seems, so it’s a good opportunity for Newcastle to show just how good they are, and with the confidence in the squad sky high right now, they could pick up all 3 points, but it will certainly not be easy.
It could well be like the Middlesbrough game last weekend, with the opposition playing at their very best, and if that’s true today, Newcastle will do well to get the win.
We have to remember that Bristol City beat WBA 2-1 last month at Ashton Gate.
But 3 points is the goal this afternoon, and in all of our 10 games left this season.
Howay The Lads!!