Which Newcastle players would have been in your first team at the start of the season?

I reckon most fans would have picked something like this:

Krulk, Janmaat, Mbebmba, Coloccini, Dummett/Haidara/whoever, Sissoko, Colback, Anita/Thauvin, Wijnaldum, Perez, Mitrovic

Things rarely turn out exactly as you expect and some players do better/worse than you’d expect, whilst injuries also come along and interfere with your season.

We keep being told that injuries have blighted Newcastle’s season but where is the evidence?

Yes there have been a lot of injuries but who have the team really missed?

Tim Krul is the highest profile player to pick up a long-term injury but it is a long time since his form justified him being badly missed or even seen as undroppable, especially when Rob Elliot has come in and done a better job than the Dutchman has since 2011/12.

Taking Krul out of the equation, the players who are Newcastle’s best and most valuable are Mbemba, Janmaat, Sissoko, Wijnaldum, Mitrovic and Perez.

At times Perez and Mitrovic haven’t always been selected by Steve McClaren for some strange reason but certainly where the vast majority of fans are unconcerned, they are two names who should always be in the team – at least until Newcastle actually buy some other strikers.

This group of six key Newcastle players have hardly missed a match through injury…until now.

Chancel Mbemba is out with an injury picked up against Everton and now Mitrovic with his that happened against Spurs.

Steve McClaren may be trying to play down both injuries but I don’t think anybody is fooled. Neither player has travelled to La Manga and I think we will be lucky to see the pair of them back for little more than half of the remaining dozen games.

This leaves us with Wijnaldum, Janmaat, Sissoko and Perez of the other key Newcastle players who are still fit.

Wijnaldum goes missing in away games, Sissoko is totally unreliable, Perez not guaranteed a game and Janmaat a great attacking player but suspect as a defender a lot of the time.

No wonder that January signings Shelvey and Townsend looked easily Newcastle’s best outfield players at Stamford Bridge.

Using backbone and Newcastle United in the same sentence may be a bit far-fetched anyway but if there is any chance of survivak it has to be based on getting as many of these key/better Newcastle players on the pitch as possible.

I really fear that the injury luck will totally run out and the likes of Janmaat and Wijnaldum, or Shelvey and Townsend, end up joining Mitrovic and Mbemba on the sidelines.

If Newcastle was really a hard luck story with injuries this season then Steve McClaren and the fans would all be talking about when will such and such be back but that has never happened…until now.

Chancel Mbemba is our only decent defender and Mitrovic the only focus for our attacking ‘plan’, no matter how many Steven Taylors, Paul Dummetts, Jack Colbacks, Siem de Jongs and Vurnon Anitas come back into fitness and availability – the pool of proper quality/hope is far too small and we have all seen their limitations.

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