Three into two just doesn’t go for Newcastle

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As if Newcastle’s loss to Bolton last weekend wasn’t bad enough, the repercussions have started to build up. Not only did Newcastle let in five goals, but the previously solid central defensive partnership of Fabricio Coloccini and Mike Williamson has been split up, destroyed in fact. Coloccini was rightfully given a straight red for his elbow against Bolton striker Johan Elmander, but Williamson was also harshly punished retrospectively by the FA Premier League for an incident involving the same player. So with both defenders ruled out for three Premiership fixtures, the door has been left ajar for Newcastle’s back-up players to get some game time under their belt, but who will Chris Hughton give the nod to?

Realistically there are three Newcastle players battling for the two defensive spots. These are Steven Taylor, Sol Campbell and Tamas Kadar. You might think that the first two are shoe-ins for the Chelsea match at St James Park on Sunday and are odds-on to both start, with fantasy football players up and down the country drafting these Newcastle bargains in, but it isn’t necessarily as clear cut as that. Kadar has shown glimpses that he has what it takes to make it at the top level, recently earning a first senior cap with the Hungarian national side, but will his inexperience work against him?

For all three players it is a very important time in their career, Steven Taylor especially. With Taylor’s contract expiring next summer time is running out for the former England U21 international to make his claim for a new deal. Taylor has continually shown his commitment to the cause, but injuries and a lack of fitness have proved his downfall for far too long. Now he has a chance to show that he should be regarded as one of Newcastle’s first choice centre backs, otherwise Hughton might cut his losses in January and sell Taylor out of fear of losing him for nothing. You get the feeling that Taylor wants to stay at Newcastle and Newcastle want Taylor to stay, but circumstances might just force a move away from St James’.

Campbell is in the twilight of his career, but still seems to have the passion and the drive to enable him to perform at the top level of English football. He has good memories of playing against Chelsea in the black and white stripes, helping Newcastle to dump Chelsea out of the Carling Cup earlier this season. Now is Sol’s opportunity to show the doubters out there that he’s not past it and can still do a job for Newcastle in the Premier League this season. If Hughton is looking for experience then he need look no further than Campbell.

Unlike Taylor and Campbell, for whom the next three games could be make or break for their Newcastle careers, Kadar has time on his side. However, as all top footballers will tell you, you have to take opportunities when they come your way. Who knows, he might not get another opportunity this season away from the 3rd round of the FA Cup and if you assume that Newcastle are going to stay up, then it’s likely that Hughton will strengthen in the summer and Kadar will yet again be well down the pecking order and relying on Carling Cup outings once more.

The Premiership match against Chelsea on Saturday is simply an opportunity that none of this Newcastle trio can afford to pass up. Up until now Coloccini and Williamson have done well, so it will take something special to displace them. However, a few clean sheets and solid defensive performances alongside victories and Hughton will think twice about changing a winning side. What is it they say? One person’s misfortune is another’s opportunity? This couldn’t be truer for Taylor, Campbell and Kadar.

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