Newcastle United boss Steve McClaren has been talking ahead of his side's Capital One Cup fixture with Championship outfit Sheffield Wednesday, and there are a few problems on Tyneside. Besides the obvious.
Misfiring striker Papiss Cisse, Jack Colback and Massaido Haidara all look set to miss the Owls visit on Wednesday night with different injuries, while the clash comes too early for a returning Cheick Tiote.
Additionally, Steven Taylor has suffered yet another injury blow. It’s nothing new for 29-year-old, who has suffered numerous long-term injuries during his Newcastle career.
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The defender, who was born in London before moving to North Tyneside weeks later, is likely to miss two months after undergoing surgery on a hamstring tear.
Taylor was included in Sky Sports ‘Most Injured Premier League XI of the 21st Century’ team, where they calculated he has racked up 1205 days on the shelf – prior to this injury of course.
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That’s a few months shy of four years. Whilst considered a hometown favourite who admittedly plays with his heart on his sleeve, imagine the millions in wages that could have been put to better use in those accumulative years.
But I digress; will the absentees have a great effect on the team entering what many fans now believe to be a must win game, given their failings in the league?
Well, it depends on how you look at it.
I would argue that Cisse and Haidara have been in the bottom three, maybe five performers this season, period. Many fans would perceive their omissions as refreshing.
The fact that in their absences there are no natural replacements is nothing short of glaring incompetence from the decision makers within St James’.
Not only was it clear as day the club needed a striker beyond that of Aleksander Mitrovic, but the quality of the forwards they already had needed improving. Yet, they failed to line the ranks.
Could Mike Ashley and co. really have believed that Cisse and the spectacular first season failure of Emmanuel Riviere would have been enough to compliment a raw, young and unproven Serb?
Believing that Haidara could handle a full season as a first choice left-back was just as naïve. Despite possessing relatively attractive tools going forward, his rash defensive instincts have cost Newcastle dear plenty times this season already (West Ham, Watford..the list goes on).
So, how important is the league Cup encounter with Sheffield Wednesday now?
Even before the disastrous start to the season, the League Cup should have been a target for the club's long-suffering fans. It’s plausible that McClaren’s statements echoing that notion were genuine, but now he finds himself scrambling for a win for entirely different reasons.
He needs to find a system that works, for one. And the team needs an injection of confidence to give themselves a fighting chance of combating Chelsea and Manchester City, who lurk on the horizon.
The victory over Northampton in the last round did precious little to kick the troops on, but Wednesday will be a sterner test than the League Two Cobblers presented.
McClaren finds himself stuck between trying to find a winning formula for the side, which may take a fair bit of tweaking, and seriously trying to win the game not only for the teams prospects, but to take some heat out of the fans simmering frustrations.
Already, the pressure is on.
Will Steve McClaren turn Newcastle United's fortunes around? Have your say below!