While the departure of Andy Carroll was already a blow to the Newcastle squad, goalkeeper Steve Harper says the Toon is being stretched to their limits in the all important season run in.

"Injuries and suspensions are killing us really," Harper said.

"You just had to look at our bench at Aston Villa to see how stretched the squad is.

"When you have as small a squad as we do, you can't really afford to be without three first-team players at the same time.


“We fancied our chances of getting something at Villa, but it undoubtedly became tougher when key men were out.”

Newcastle's main men Chiek Tiote and Kevin Nolan are currently suspended, and Shola Ameobi is recovering from a knee injury.

"To take three key players out of any team is a big ask, but to take them out of a squad the size of ours is a massive disadvantage,” Harper said.

"Cheik's back from suspension now, and hopefully Shola's injury is not too bad, but the size of the squad is undoubtedly an issue. It's all hands on deck at the moment."

Newcastle currently sit at ninth on the Barclays Premier League table. While there are eight teams and seven points separating the Toon from the relegation zone, Newcastle face Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea in the season run in.

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