Club Focus – Newcastle – Injury problems hinder Tottenham clash

Newcastle will have home advantage over in-form Tottenham Hotspur when they meet at the weekend. The two sides last met at the end of December with Harry Redknapp’s title chasing team running out comfortable 2-0 victors, despite being reduced to 10-men. Newcastle fans will be hoping it will be a much closer game this time around, especially with the Magpies having a good record when at home to the north London club. Spurs’ last win in the north-east came back in 2003 when they won 1-0. With Newcastle entrenched in mid-table there next few games could be important in deciding where their priority is for the rest of the season.

Alan Pardew has a few injury problems to contend with going into Saturday’s game. Top scorer and potential Tottenham transfer target Andy Carroll has been ruled out with a thigh problem that he has struggled to recover from. Midfielders Alan Smith and Dan Gosling have also joined the injury list in the past few days. Gosling has suffered a setback in his recovery from a serious knee injury having just made his debut against Sunderland at the weekend. Smith picked up an ankle injury in the first half of the derby game and is now likely to be ruled out for the rest of the season. His manager said: “It’s sad news for Alan because it’s an ankle he’s had problems with and we think he’ll probably be out for the rest of the season.” Pardew confirmed that Danny Guthrie would replace Smith in central midfield as Cheik Tiote serves the second game of his three match suspension. The problems leave Newcastle short of options in midfield and may see Wayne Routledge remain on Tyneside until after the game against one of his former clubs. Fortunately the Magpies do not return to action until February once Saturday’s game is complete – giving the injured players some recovery time.

Whether Pardew has added to his squad by then remains to be seen as little progress has been made on the transfer front. The latest player to be linked with a move to Tyneside is Manchester City outcast Shaun Wright-Phillips. A move for the pacey winger may explain the decision to sanction a move away for Routledge – a player who plays in exactly the same position. Wright-Phillips’ agent has talked up a potential deal but there has been no confirmation of a move for the player from the Newcastle hierarchy.

Pardew would appear more concerned with keeping his current squad of players together and using them as a platform to build on in the future. A policy which would seem sensible given the lack of quality and value for money available in the January transfer window. Newcastle posses a strong spine to their team but still need some improvement in other areas. Pardew told The Daily Express: “I want to see us progress as a club and as a team and not only stabilise ourselves as a Premier League club, but also start threatening the top ten. If we can keep our best young players it is possible. Unless we keep the likes of Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan we are never going to get there.”

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