Tuesday night’s match against Peterborough United further underlined the lack of depth in Newcastle’s squad. With Steven and Ryan Taylor and Danny Guthrie the only regular first teamers to start a number of players were promoted from the reserves. Defenders James Tavernier and Ben Tozer, and midfielders Haris Vuckic and Ryan Donaldson were all handed their first senior starts for the club. There were also appearances by goalkeeper Tim Krul, Kazenga Lua Lua and Nile Ranger, none of whom have a great deal of first team experience. Against a Peterborough United side at almost full strength it was always going to be a tough test for the youngsters. In the end a 2-0 defeat was slightly flattering on Newcastle who were well beaten. With Danny Guthrie sent off early in the second half Alan Smith, Kevin Nolan and Geremi were sent on to save any further embarrassment.
It was a chastening experience for many of the young players but if they are called upon in the future the chances are that they will be lining up alongside internationals and experienced pros rather than players with limited first team experience. Newcastle should not lose heart from their investment in talented teenagers as Krul, Vuckic and Ranger in particular all look to have bright futures ahead of them. Tim Krul, a Holland Under-21 regular, again showcased his talents with a series of fine saves. He will have been disappointed by being beaten at his near post for Peterborough’s second goal but otherwise he was one of the few players to shine. Krul has so far shown himself to be a good shot stopper who tries to catch every ball that comes into his area. However Steve Harper’s recent fine displays mean he may have to wait a little longer for the number one jersey.
Newcastle have strengthened their attacking options with the signing of Marlon Harewood on a three month loan deal. He brings some much needed competition to their striking department with Andy Carroll, Nile Ranger and the versatile Peter Lovenkrands the only other options. Harewood, who has just returned from injury, brings experience, pace and power to Newcastle’s forward line. Harewood has struggled to make much of an impact at Villa Park since arriving in 2007, scoring only seven goals in 40 appearances. Newcastle represents a fresh start for the player who must be keen to get is career back on track after being on the periphery under Martin O’Neill.
Harewood will go straight into the squad for Saturday’s televised fixture against Ipswich Town. It was probably originally chosen for TV for a possible Alan Shearer – Roy Keane match up but it has taken on new significance following the death of Sir Bobby Robson. The legendary manager enjoyed successful spells at both clubs in the beginning and at the end of his managerial career. Saturday will see the renaming of Portman Road’s North Stand to The Bobby Robson Stand. Both teams have also received special dispensation from The FA to wear specially designed kits promoting The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. After the game the shirts will be auctioned for Sir Bobby’s charity. Hopefully the game will be a fitting tribute to the Geordie gentleman.
Newcastle United Club Focus
Pre-season woe – July 29
Fans say goodbye to a hero – August 5
Bridge over troubled water? – August 12
Local boy steps up – August 18
Home-grown strike partnership takes effect – August 21
Geordie resurgence gains momentum – August 25
Takeover still talk of the Toon – August 28
St James’ Park Ranger keeps Magpies firing – September 1
Ex-Magpie returns just as window shuts – September 4
Want-away striker leaves already thin squad – September 8
Former striker aims to shoot down Magpies – September 11
Newcastle return to Championship summit – September 15
Magpies upset on trip to the seaside – September 18
Magpies return to winning ways – September 22