Newcastle United are set to take on Norwich City with both teams in dire need of points if they are to avoid relegation. The circumstances leading up to this match have made it a certain relegation six pointer and Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez has had his say on the squad in the build up to this huge game.
The Magpies will continue to be without club captain Fabricio Coloccini. The Argentine centre-back has been side lined for a number of games now, giving game time to players like Jamaal Lascelles.
Speaking of injured defenders, Massadio Haidara is also out and Jack Colback is again expected to fill in at left-back, where he has been playing for a number of weeks.
On the bright side, both Daryl Janmaat and Cheick Tiote are both in the squad after avoiding more time out injured. These are two players who can play a huge part to play in Newcastle’s fight for relegation.
The biggest name that has been taken out of the Newcastle squad is Rob Elliot. With Tim Krul suffering a long term injury earlier in the season, Elliot has held the mantle as the first choice goalkeeper for most of the campaign.
Yet the Irish international was injured while representing his country earlier in the week and is expected to be out for the rest of the season. Karl Darlow is expected to replace him.
In comes Darlow?
“We have to support Darlow and do what we need to do. He’s training well, we know he can do well and he has enough experience.”
This is what Rafa had to say about the young goalkeeper who is expected to come in a fill for Elliot. Darlow was signed from Nottingham Forest in 2014 but has so far failed to to secure a first team spot at St James’ Park.
After confirming that signing a free agent goalkeeper is out of the question, the manager has called upon the players and the fans alike to get behind the 25-year old.
What kind of threat do Norwich pose?
With Aston Villa seemingly destined to occupy one of the three relegation places in the league, it looks increasingly more likely that Newcastle, Sunderland and Norwich will compete against each other, with two of them dropping down to the Championship.
Norwich are one of the three teams that came up from the second tier last season, along with Bournemouth and Watford, and Benitez recognises their threat: “Norwich are organised. The players know their jobs. Work rate is really good. We have to work hard from first minute to last.”