Club Focus – Newcastle United – Magpies face in-form Bolton

Newcastle will be looking to maintain their fine form on the road this season when they travel to Lancashire to face Bolton at the weekend. The Trotters have been one of the most improved teams in the league this campaign and currently lie 5th in the table. Although Newcastle have slipped to 8th after two poor showings at home, just a point separates the two teams going into Saturday’s game. The Reebok Stadium has not always been a happy hunting ground for the Magpies in recent years; Newcastle lost 1-0 the last time the two sides met.

The encounter brings together two of the top old-fashioned centre forwards in the country in Kevin Davies and Andy Carroll. The latter replaced the former in this week’s England squad as manager Fabio Capello looked towards the future. Carroll did himself little harm with a decent showing on his England debut. Although he had few chances to score and was largely starved of service Carroll made the best out of a bad situation. This was despite Newcastle writing to the FA to ask for his withdrawal due to a groin injury. The 21-year-old suffered the injury against Fulham and it was feared that he could aggravate the injury further by playing on Wednesday. Carroll featured for around 70 minutes but appeared to be fully fit and he should be fit enough to face Bolton. After making his international bow Carroll said: “I was happy with my performance on the night and it obviously leaves you wanting to experience a bit more. For me, it was a great experience to be out there and playing with top international players. I’ve really enjoyed it.”

Newcastle have received mixed news on the injury front with Ryan Taylor the latest player to join the long-term injury list. The utility player has been ruled out for 12 weeks after suffering ankle ligament damage. Taylor has been on the periphery of first-team action this season with most of his appearances coming in the Carling Cup. He has been joined on the sidelines by Kazenga Lua Lua who has suffered a broken leg on loan at League One leaders Brighton. Lua Lua had impressed at Brighton with a number of eye-catching goals for Gus Poyet’s men. In more positive news defenders Steven Taylor and Sol Campbell featured for the reserves in their 1-0 win over Manchester City. There were also starts for forgotten men Xisco and Leon Best, a goal from Matthew Grieve separating the two teams.

Best could find himself farmed out on loan to a Championship side after falling down the pecking order at St James’ Park. He now finds himself the fifth choice forward at the club and desperately needs game time to prove himself. However the player wants to stay on Tyneside to fight for his place. He said: “I definitely want to stay here. I’ve been sent out on loan since I was 17 years old and I’m really not interested in going out on loan. I want to stay at Newcastle because I love it here and I want to help them do well.”

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