STEVEN Taylor has been ruled out until the New Year in another blow to struggling Newcastle United.
Taylor injured his hamstring in the defeat at Southampton and The Journal understands that Newcastle’s initial assessment is that he will face more than a month on the sidelines, ruling him out of United’s busy Christmas programme and further stretching their wafer-thin squad. In fact, Newcastle fear he may miss up to six weeks, which would see him miss games against Arsenal, Manchester United and Manchester City – which are the highlights of a packed December programme for Alan Pardew’s side.
It is another unwanted fitness problem for Pardew as he attempts to lead a United revival following their alarming slump over the past few weeks, and is only partially mitigated by the return of captain Fabricio Coloccini from a three-match ban.
Although Coloccini will make his comeback at Stoke on Wednesday, Newcastle now have only two specialist centre-backs to see them through to the start of the year and the opening of the January transfer window.
James Perch can fill in at centre-back – and is back from his own injury problems – but Newcastle have few options if they suffer another injury. Rookie James Tavernier is an option but summer signing Curtis Good has been loaned to Bradford City in order to get more experience.
The news is also a personal blow to Taylor (pictured right), who had been in excellent form and attracting the attention of England scouts over recent weeks. He captained Newcastle in their recent clash with Swansea and will be frustrated at the prospect of more time on the sidelines.
United’s collapse in form has coincided with a raft of injury problems that have seen key players ruled out at vital periods.
Yohan Cabaye went under the knife on a persistent groin problem yesterday and then confirmed in a statement that he would face a second operation on his injured groin. The United star said he was hoping to get “back on his feet” as soon as possible.
“A recurring pain (forced) me to get operated on my abdominal wall. There will be two steps in the surgery,” he said.
“The first on November 26, the second will happen the day
after. I will let you know about my recovery as often as possible.
“I’ll do my best to get back on my feet as soon as possible.”
Pardew will address the media this afternoon ahead of his team’s trip to Stoke, a match that has taken on huge importance after United’s run of three straight defeats.
The manager admits this is his toughest period in charge and has called on the players to respond in the face of adversity.
Newcastle have gone from hanging on the coat-tails of the Champions League places to facing the prospect of being dragged into a scrap at the wrong end of the table but the manager is likely to stress the importance of keeping clear heads as his under-siege players prepare for two crucial games.
United have not won an away game all season and with Stoke also grasping for form they know they are in for a tough evening.
There will certainly need to be improvements from the display against Southampton on Saturday.