The main focus for Newcastle fans tonight appears to be agonising over who might be left out of the team for the FA Cup replay against Birmingham.
All the talk is whether or not Jonjo Shelvey will play and as a secondary interest, the possible risking of Daryl Murphy, bearing in mind it is Championship action v Rotherham on Saturday and Newcastle are missing a canny few players.
I think instead we should be embracing the game tonight and looking forward to seeing whether we could maybe be there to see an unexpected star emerge.
They might not necessarily start but any of the young reserve quartet of (central defender) Stuart Findlay, (midfielders) Dan Barlaser and Jamie Holmes, as well as (forward) Yasin Ben El-Mhanni, could well see themselves entering the action off the bench.
The bottom line is that injuries/circumstances give opportunities to others and the fact is, just when would these younger players get a chance?
With clubs increasingly buying older players to go straight into their first team squads, it has become so much harder/impossible for many young players to get an opportunity.
I know that I for one wouldn’t mind seeing if somebody like El-Mhanni could be inspired by the bigger stage – he has obviously got great ball skills but is that all he will ever be seen as?
What you do know is that if any of the four get their chance, they will be busting a gut to impress…and just how many of us have moaned in recent seasons as Moussa Sissoko and others have strolled around, not giving a toss?
Midfielder Dan Barlaser turns 20 today, so can you imagine how proud he will feel if he gets on that pitch against Birmingham, with what looks to be a likely crowd of up to forty thousand expected?
Yes Rafa Benitez may well see this game tonight as a bit of a pain with promotion the only thing on the agenda and he may well pick a team that he thinks might get beat – but who cares? Just so long as the 11 players that do get chosen give their all – that is the only thing that counts.
As a major piece of evidence, I take you back to Newcastle United’s League Cup 4th Round match on Wednesday 29 October 2014 at the Etihad.
All dominant Manchester City expected to stroll through and Alan Pardew once again followed Ashley’s orders, disrespecting the cups and choosing a team that he thought would lose, leaving out most of his first choice players.
Instead we saw an inspired performance from young players such as Aarons (18), Armstrong (17) and Haidara (20), as well as fringe ones such as Ameobi, Obertan, Abeid and Ryan Taylor.
Of course the shameless Alan Pardew claimed afterwards that he had chosen that particular starting eleven because he thought it was the best team he could put out to get a result!
Goals from Aarons in the 6th minute and substitute Sissoko in the 75th put Newcastle through to the last eight, an early bonus injury to Silva forcing him off after nine minutes
The Newcastle team that night against Manchester City:
Elliot, Janmaat (Sissoko 65), Coloccini, Dummett, Haidara, R.Taylor, Abeid, Colback, Obertan, Armstrong (Riviere 65), Aarons (Sammy Ameobi 46)
So enjoy the game tonight and especially get behind any of the young experienced players if they get their chance.