In the aftermath of Saturday’s desperate cup exit and in advance of the Blackburn match, Alan Pardew reflected on his players’ currently available…or not.

Speaking to the Evening Chronicle the manager had this to say;

“It (Blackburn) is a game which comes thick and fast. This is an important period for us as we know if we can take three or four points out of the next two games and the core of the team returns, who knows?

No Coloccini, no Demba and no Cheick Tiote – plus no Papiss Cissé, that is a big hole for any side.

I am sure if we had had them at Brighton they would have made the difference – 100%.

It was disappointing because we controlled the game for long periods of time.

It is difficult to criticise players. We are all very, very disappointed with it”.

I feel the manager is stuck between a rock and a hard place, as has been often said our squad has a definite split, in fact a chasm, between our top six or seven players and most of the rest of the squad.

In the main, Pardew has largely refrained from pointing out the obvious because he has to somehow get the best out of the likes of Best, Ameobi, Perch, Williamson, Guthrie etc. when our top players are unavailable, plus no doubt he doesn’t want to be seen to be making excuses.

Sometimes though you have to state the obvious to defend yourself and while the eleven on the pitch on Saturday should still have won comfortably, until the likes of Coloccini, Tiote, Ba, Steven Taylor and Cisse get suitable back-up we will always be shooting ourselves in the foot when trying to maintain league form in their absence.