Newcastle held many discussions with Orlando officials yesterday, citing concerns with the pitch at the Citrus Bowl.
Jose Enrique – will play tonight
When tonight’s game was being set up back in April, Newcastle had agreed they would be playing on a temporary grass surface, and those temporary grass surfaces were used a lot to cover the synthetic pitches during the 1994 World Cup.
Artificial turf is sometimes difficult to play on, and there can be more injuries when football is played on these synthetic turf surfaces, which have less give in them than natural grass.
Orlando did put in a temporary grass surface for tonight’s game but, after a lengthy inspection yesterday, both clubs agreed the surface was not good enough and too dangerous, and therefore they will not play on it now.
It was ripped up and the lads will play on the artificial surface tonight – ouch!
Of course the very last thing Newcastle need are even more injuries since Guthrie, Ferguson and Ben Arfa have been injured in the first two pre-season games, and the Newcastle squad is still paper-thin, as we all know.
Not playing on the newly laid grass surface cost Orlando quite a bit of money, and specifically English owner Phil Rawlins, but Phil was said to be in agreement with the Newcastle request.
So the game will now be played on the artificial turf, which is giving Alan Pardew some second thoughts as to which players to play tonight.
Pardew was trying to give all three goalkeepers a game on the tour:
“We are trying to give all the keepers all an equal chance to show what they can do.
“Steve Harper should be playing. But it looks like we will be playing on Field Turf.”
“Harps might not be comfortable with that so we will see.”
So we’ll just have to hope there are no injuries caused by the turf tonight, but it seems the plans have unraveled with the unsuitability of the grass pitch, what’s that saying again about the plans of mice and men?
Pardew may give want-away Jose Enrique a game tonight, but the very worst thing that could happen is that Jose gets injured, or aggravates the hamstring injury he picked up earlier on the tour.
However, Jose was back in training yesterday as Newcastle held a workout in Orlando, and there is no further news on his long running soap opera, that has engulfed Enrique since Andy Carroll left in January.
Pardew talked about the left-back:
“Jose can probably start. It was only his first day back from a little hamstring injury in training yesterday.
“We have protected him because he is an important player for us. We don’t want to risk anybody, we’ve had two injuries, two games and two X-rays so far.”
We’ll be holding our breath a bit tonight that there are no more injuries.
And of course if Newcastle do suffer more injuries in this pre-season, it may force Newcastle to sign more players this summer, so that the size of the squad is adequate enough for the Premier League.
You can hardly say that about the Magpies squad at the moment.