Football

Hughton's statement of intent

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Newcastle caretaker manager Chris Hughton has challenged his side to make it tough for the top teams, and improve their prospects of climbing the table.

A goal from Bolton substitute Ricardo Gardner a minute into the second half was all that separated the sides in the Barclays Premier League at the Reebok Stadium on Sunday.

Manchester United are next up at St James' Park on Wednesday, followed shortly afterwards by Chelsea and Arsenal, and Hughton admitted: "It was a bitter blow to lose to Bolton, but all we can do is pick ourselves up and focus on Manchester United."

He added: "If you asked me if I would rather not play them, that goes without saying. But this is what we are faced with.

"On the other hand, these are the type of games as a player you must surely look forward to. We know there are a lot of teams in a similar situation to us - but all we can do is concentrate on our own game."

Hughton is hoping Nicky Butt and Damien Duff will both be fit to face United. Butt limped off with a knee problem, while Duff was sidelined with a calf injury.

Hughton felt Newcastle should have had a penalty when Jlloyd Samuel blocked Fabricio Coloccini's effort late in the game. But referee Alan Wiley would have none of it and waved play on, leaving the visitors furious.

Hughton added: "I thought the lad's hands were out, and it was one a lot of referees would have given."

Striker Obafemi Martins was out of luck with a couple of efforts and looked unhappy when he was replaced by Mark Viduka.

"Oba has been out of action for some time and perhaps lacked that bit of sharpness," said Hughton. "That's why I made the change."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

Topics:
Arsenal
Football
Bolton Wanderers
Chelsea
Premier League
Fabricio Coloccini
Manchester United
Obafemi Martins
Damien Duff
Mark Viduka
Nicky Butt
Jlloyd Samuel
Ricardo Gardner
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