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SHEPHERD: Injuries are no excuse


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Suprised this piece from The Journal hasn't been posted yet.


Freddie: Injuries are no excuse


Freddie Shepherd has warned that Newcastle's horrendous catalogue of injuries is no excuse for the club's current predicament and insisted that, even without so many pivotal performers, United should be capable of bringing European football back to Tyneside.

As Stephen Carr became the forth St James' Park player since the turn of the year to undergo an operation, the Magpies chairman was last night adamant that, despite all the misfortune to befall him in recent weeks, Graeme Souness can still plot a succesful climax to a season of strife.


The Newcastle manager will be without Carr, Kieron Dyer, Michael Owen, Scott Parker, Amdy Faye, Craig Moore, Steven Taylor and Shola Ameobi for tomorrow's encounter with Blackburn, while Titus Bramble's participation remains in question and Emre can hope for a seat among the substitutes at best. The loss of so many senior players is crippling as it is unprecedented. But despite the exceptional circumstances, Shepherd will not lower his expectations as attempts to ensure that a trouble campaign is not allowed to drift away.


"Yes, we have injuries but people shouldn't forget that we still have a lot of quality players and experienced internationals available," said a chairman who will demand a rousing performance against Rovers at St James's Park tomorrow. "Sometimes people can look at the negatives too much.


"This is a time for everyone associated with Newcastle United - from the boardroom to the coaching and playing staff and all our loyal fans - to be positive and to go for it.


"We still have 10 home matches to play in the Premiership - that is 30 points and I don't understand why some people are saying that we can't qualify for Europe when nothing has been decided yet.


"I still believe we can, you have to be positive when there are so many games left. There are still over three months of the season left and anything could happen.


"Let's go out and be positive and climb up the table and have a good run in the FA Cup."


There is nothing wrong with Shepherd's ambition, but given what has happened so far this season, his European targets seem over-optimistic and it seems as though the Intertoto Cup will represent the club's likeliest route back into Continental competition.


Having cut the gap on the Premiership's top four in the lead up to Christmas, United's inconsistent results since have cost Souness and his side dear.


A Newcastle team without a league win since December 17 is now 14 points short of a Champions League place and eight points behind sixth place Wigan.


That the Magpies have won three successive Premiership fixtures just once this season will do little to enspire confidence amnogst supporters that a revival is imminent.


With so many important players missing for so long, it seems it will not happen.


His goalkeeper apart, Souness will have selection issues with all departments of his team as he prepares to face his former club at St James's Park for the first time.

Having lost his first choice striker, midfielders and central defender, ths side which lines up against Blackburn will be severely-weakened.


Just as Alan Shearer saved the day by equalling Jackie Milburn's club scoring record against Mansfield in the FA Cup two weeks ago, so Souness will hope that his skipper uses his final league appearance against his former club to set a new mark.


"I think every Newcastle fan wants to see Alan break the record at St James's Park," Shepherd told Newcastle's official website last night. "We have had some unbelievable days and nights at St James's Park down the years and, if Alan were to score against Blackburn, it would rank up there with the best of them."



So, the question is, is Shepherd saying we can turn the season around, or is he putting the pressure on Souness?


I'm inclined to think the latter. The fact that Shepherd has said injuries are no excuse is what a lot of us have been saying for ages. Now that Shepherd has said this, Souness can no longer hid behind that excuse that has been a shield for himself and his mates.

Edited by Tom_NUFC
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