The first international break of the season will give Newcastle boss Alan Pardew the chance to catch his breath and reflect on the season’s hectic opening fortnight.
His side is safely into the group stages of the Europa League and while they haven’t drawn ‘big’ side which would have given them the glamour tie Pardew wanted as a reward to the fans he will probably look at the group as one from which his side has a realistic chance of progressing.
In the League the side has extended their unbeaten home run in 2012 by two more games and picked up four points from three very tricky matches. It might not have been as good as he’d hoped but it’s probably no worse than he expected and it gives them a solid start in their quest to go one better than last season and reach the Champions League.
Every silver lining has a cloud and international breaks mean players off on international duty and before a ball has even been kicked in anger, skipper Fabricio Coloccini has been injured on duty for Argentina. The player’s right hamstring is the cause for concern even more so with Ryan Taylor facing several months on the sidelines after damaging his knee in the home tie against Greek side Atromitos and Danny Simpson also limping out of the same game.
Newcastle are likely to be stretched defensively for their match against Everton on September 17th at Goodison Park and if anything the injuries highlight the inexperienced make up of Newcastle’s squad once you scratch the surface.
Going into this season one of the questions was always how the rigors of European competition would affect Newcastle. Ten minutes into the second game, with Taylor writhing in agony on the sidelines we got an answer.
One player who hasn’t travelled with their national team is Chieke Tiote. The Ivorian is likely to make the trip to Goodison Park for Newcastle’s first game after the break. However, while Tiote won’t be on duty for the African Cup of Nations qualifier against Senegal, the game could still have huge ramifications for Newcastle’s season.
If the Ivory Coast win then Pardew is likely to lose Tiote, although he has cover in new signings Vurnon Anita and Gael Bigirimana, perhaps the bigger concern would be if Senegal progress as then Newcastle could lose both Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse.
Having failed to bring in either Luuk De Jong or Andy Carroll – the two strikers they were chasing over the summer – the loss of Ba and Cisse, even temporarily, could be problematic. Sometimes having a break just gives you more to worry about.
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