Club Focus – Newcastle – Time out for Magpies squad

Newcastle face another weekend without any action as the FA Cup takes over from the Premier League schedule. Like a number of other clubs, March will be a barren month in terms of games with the Magpies only playing two games in 31 days. Alan Pardew will probably feel this is a blessing in disguise with his first team squad stretched by a number of injury worries. Rather than take his players away to a warm weather training camp the manager has given his charges the rest of the week off to recharge their batteries. It also allows some of the squad members with families not based in the north east a chance to spend some time with them.

On the injury front there has been little sign of improvement and it is just as well that the Magpies are not in action at the weekend. Joey Barton, Stephen Ireland, Jonas Gutierrez, Jose Enrique and Nile Ranger are all short term absentees. Out of the five Ireland and Enrique are the least likely to face Stoke in a week’s time. Planning ahead for next week’s game, which could drag either side closer to the relegation battle, Pardew revealed that he would pick his team as early as Thursday to ensure better preparation.

Although Stephen Ireland is likely to miss next weekend’s game Pardew still appears keen on securing the Irishman’s signature in the summer. No fee has been pre-arranged between the two clubs although it seems Ireland is reluctant to return to Villa next season after falling out of favour under Gerard Houllier. Pardew said: “He’s still got time to impress me because I still think there is a chance of something permanent here for Stephen. Things at Villa aren’t going too well. I want to have a good look at him before he goes back.” At the present moment in time it would represent a significant gamble to make Ireland a permanent Newcastle United player. His form has dipped significantly over the past couple of seasons and he has courted controversy on a number of occasions. However, he could be worth a gamble if he can reclaim the form he showed with Manchester City, most notably in the 2008-09 season.

Peter Lovenkrands has warned Newcastle youngster Nile Ranger to make the most of his chance at St James’ Park. Ranger has spent most of the season coming off the substitutes’ bench to make an impact later on in games. While the 19 year old has some talent there are question marks over his attitude and dedication in training. Ranger is yet to find the net in the Premier League this season despite getting into a number of good positions. As a senior player Lovenkrands has looked to take the teenager under his wing and help him to move forward. Speaking to The Chronicle Lovenkrands said: “Nile has a lot to learn, especially in training. There are a lot of things to work on and things he needs to listen to. The senior boys can only do so much. You can say so many things – you just don’t know how much he listens to us. Hopefully, he’ll take it on board.”

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