St James Park - Newcastle United News

No doubt still high from their amazing mid-week win over Manchester United, Newcastle must bring themselves down to earth to ensure they don’t crash out of the FA Cup at the first hurdle, when Blackburn Rovers come to town tomorrow afternoon.

Steve Kean still remains manager of the struggling Lancashire side, somehow, and will hope a decent FA Cup run will save his bacon (or should that be chicken) for another few weeks at least. India owners Venky’s also remain ever-unpopular at Ewood Park, but like their beleaguered manager, they seem willing to plough on regardless and hope for the best.

Fans of Rovers have even gone so far as to create a Facebook event, urging fans to boycott the trip to the north-east and go and watch Chorley FC this weekend, as the local side take on North Ferriby United. Chorley, who usually attract gates of just over 200, will be hoping the event proves a success, as they fight debts of over £70,000.

Until recently, Rovers enjoyed a spectacular record at St James’ Park, having not lost on Tyneside since 2004/05. However, Demba Ba put an end to that record single-handedly, when the Senegal striker struck a hat-trick to see off Blackburn earlier in the season.

But now life begins without Ba, as he has travelled to Africa to link up with his international team-mates for the upcoming African Cup of Nations. The in-form Senegalese man will miss up to six games for Newcastle, and will be hoping his club side are still in the cup hunt by the time he returns.

The usual rotation is set to apply for Newcastle tomorrow, with Haris Vuckic, Dan Gosling, Leon Best and Gabriel Obertan coming into contention, whilst Hatem Ben Arfa will be looking for a rare start as he fights to regain popularity with his manager. Alan Pardew has challenged the France international to establish himself in the team whilst Ba is in Africa, and tomorrow will be a chance to see if the former Marseille winger can do just that.

One of the heroes from Wednesday night’s memorable victory, Yohan Cabaye, is doubtful with a knock he picked up in that win, whilst Ryan Taylor may not be risked after struggling through the latter stages of the 3-0 demolition job. The usual suspects are sidelined for the Magpies, with Sylvain Marveaux, Steven Taylor, Danny Guthrie, Nile Ranger and Peter Lovenkrands all missing out.

Kean will be boosted by the return to fitness of two of his key players, with Gael Givet and Martin Olsson coming back into contention for the 3rd Round tie. Ryan Nelsen, however, has gone home to New Zealand in a bid to try and sort a knee injury that has plagued him for the last year. Second-choice goalkeeper Mark Bunn will continue between the sticks for Rovers, with Paul Robinson still out with a calf tear.

Newcastle target Junior Hoilett may play, as his manager admits that any offers for the flying winger will have to be considered during the January transfer window. Hoilett looks like one player who doesn’t deserve to be in a side that sits bottom of the league, and could use tomorrow as a shop window to show his talents to his many suitors, Newcastle being one of them.

With life in the league going swimmingly for Newcastle, a cup run is something that will appeal to players and fans alike for sure. It’s a number of years since the Geordies properly challenged for silverware, and this season could be one for them, if they put their efforts into reaching Wembley. The top teams will surely be fighting it out in a tight title race, so maybe the time is now for Alan Pardew’s high-flying Magpies.

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  1. bob

    I'd play the same team and positions as the man utd game with obvious changes i'd play cabaye as the holding mid and bring in vukic as the creative CM and ben arfa in between him and ameobi.

    simpson – williamson – colo – santon
    taylor – cabaye – vukic- spiderman
    ————–ben arfa ———–


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