Newcastle ready to face Hammers - Hughton
CHRIS Hughton is convinced his Newcastle United players will draw strength from a turbulent week in the build up to today’s crucial trip to West Ham United.
Hughton has had to deal with an array of distractions this week, most of them concerning troubled striker Andy Carroll, who started the week with a charge of assault and ended it with his car being torched outside the home of team-mate Kevin Nolan.
Carroll was in the squad which travelled to London yesterday, although Hughton is yet to make a decision on whether the number nine should start at Upton Park.
He is confident the striker is still in the right frame of mind to play – although The Journal understands Carroll is upset at the car incident as it happened outside Nolan’s home with his young family inside – but Shola Ameobi has probably done enough on purely football matters to oust him from the starting line up this evening.
Regardless of the drama surrounding Carroll, as well as the negative speculation about his own position as manager following the failure to beat Wigan Athletic last weekend, Hughton is confident the players will respond as they always do to adversity.
“One thing the players have always realised is what Newcastle is and what the club represents,” said Hughton, whose calmness in the eye of the storm has been particularly impressive this week. “These are the same group of players who have already been through a lot
of ups and downs here. We have had issues to deal with in the past, but they have protected the good spirit in the squad.
“Irrespective of other things that have been going on, the fact is we are in a far more difficult league than last season. We were very aware there were going to be ups and downs and we would lose a lot more games than we did last season.”
Indeed, despite the great results at home to Aston Villa and away at Everton and Chelsea, and for all the positives in promotion from the Championship, the Magpies were always likely to be involved in a relegation battle.
After eight games, that prediction already looks accurate although a good result at West Ham would lift them back into the middle of a congested top-flight table.