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Lucky escape

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A relieved Glenn Roeder last night admitted that Newcastle have had a lucky escape after insisting Obafemi Martins should be fully fit by the time United return to Premiership action.


But the Magpies boss could not maintain his positive demeanour when asked to evaluate the nature of his team's performance, having watched a team undermined by familiar defensive frailties lose at Aston Villa.


The visitors were already bound for defeat when Martins collapsed clutching his left leg on the hour mark and, as his club's new £10m signing was carried from the pitch on a stretcher, Roeder feared the worst.


A preliminary examination has revealed that the Nigerian has suffered nothing more serious than a dead leg. And, although the problem will prevent Martins from reporting for international duty this week, he should be able to make his St James's Park debut against Fulham on September 9. "I think we've been very lucky," said Roeder, who, with no games to prepare for until the Cottagers visit the North-East in 12 days' time, can give his full focus to attempting to strengthen his first-team squad.


"Oba has suffered a dead leg. It's quite a heavy dead leg, it has bled into the muscle, he took a nasty smack on it. I was very concerned when the stretcher came on, I thought it might be a really nasty injury. Thankfully it's not and I expect him to be fit for the game against Fulham. It's a let-off."


Even having added Martins to his squad, Roeder is a manager short of strikers, and the United boss admitted last night that he still has no idea how long Shola Ameobi will be sidelined for with a long-standing hip complaint.


Roeder is still seeking striking reinforcements and is understood to be pursuing one particular target with a view to a season-long loan deal. On the evidence of yesterday's performance, he also needs a reliable central defender. "With Jean-Alain Boumsong having left the club, that's an area of the team that I hope we can strengthen before Thursday (the transfer deadline)," he said. "We're working on a couple of options as we speak.


"We still need to strengthen the squad a bit more before the window closes and, if I can get what I want, I will be happy to attack the rest of the season with this squad.


"If I can get the three players I want, I will take my chances and be very pleased. Until the ink dries on a contract, you never know, but I think we are in pole position with them."


Martins worked hard for little reward on his United debut and Roeder admitted that the African needs support if he is to succeed at St James's Park.


"He only came to the club on Thursday and has been recovering from quite a heavy dose of flu that has stopped him training for a couple of weeks," he said.


"In an ideal world, we would not have started Oba, we would have had him on the bench because his general level of fitness is not what it might be. But we didn't have much choice.


"I can see he needs a special striker to play alongside him, someone with a physical presence to help him. We didn't create opportunities for him and he didn't get the chance to open up and really show his pace.


"Having seen him on the training ground, I think he is the quickest player I have ever worked with."


Roeder remains keen on the Chelsea defenders Robert Huth and Wayne Bridge and, given the ease with which Villa carved United open, both players would be useful additions to his squad.


"I'm sure Martin O'Neill will say that they have scored two fabulous goals but I know that when I show my players the tape, they will be disappointed," he added.


"There were individual errors and people should have done better. Shay Given was given no protection whatsoever and I was very disappointed.


"It was one of those days. We didn't create much but, if we had defended better, we might have dug out a point."


Meanwhile, Denmark midfielder Thomas Gravesen has confirmed that Newcastle are one five clubs to have shown an interest in signing him from Real Madrid.


Source: http://icnewcastle.icnetwork.co.uk/newcast...-name_page.html


Bridge, a striker & Huth/Woodgate?? <_<

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3 or 4 from Chimbonda, Bridge, Woodgate, Huth, Malbranque and Klose.


And we could challenge for 4th with that team.


Just a shame it took us so long to get our arses into gear

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