Alan Pardew (who will have to re-earn his Special One, Jr. moniker) has boarded the plane bound for Bordeaux with a squad chock full of youngsters ahead of Thursday's somewhat meaningless match to conclude the group stage of the Europa League. While a win in this match would put Newcastle in the draw as a seeded team as group champions, injuries and perhaps gumption have taken their toll on the squad and the perceived level of interest in this match.
As reported by The Irish Examiner, the senior squad representation in the team for Thursday is largely limited to defenders, fringe players and those returning from injury:
Tim Krul, Rob Elliot | Danny Simpson, Shane Ferguson (21), James Tavernier (21), Fabricio Coloccini, Mike Williamson | James Perch, Vurnon Anita, Gael Bigirimana (Notorious B.I.G.i.) (19), Sylvain Marveaux, Sammy Ameobi (20), Romain Amalfitano, Mehdi Abeid (20), Connor Newton (21), Yven Moyo (20) | Papiss Cisse, Shola Ameobi, Adam Campbell (17), Nile Ranger (21).
With the injuries that the club is carrying at this point, it is going to be hard to fault Pardew if he ends up fielding a squad short on senior squad experience and long on "let's find out where some of these lads are" type players. While there's very little by way of viable option across the defensive line (dead horse dead horse dead horse), the options through the midfield and attacking are intriguing (if not exciting... I've learned my lesson). It could very well look something like this when Newcastle kick off tomorrow:
Possible squad (4-4-2):
Elliot | Tavernier, Williamson, Perch, Ferguson | Marveaux, Amalfitano, Bigirimana, Sameobi | Shola, Campbell
This squad would be the ultimate trying-out-youngsters type squad... it wouldn't be surprising to see this or something similar if Pards has decided to treat this match with an "if we get something, great, but..." attitude. Keeping in mind that the players are in the squad to do something that may be more typically expected:
Krul | Simpson, Williamson, Coloccini, Ferguson | Amalfitano, Anita, Bigirimana, Perch, Sameobi | Shola
which would indicate at least a precursory interest in intent to win the match. It's hard to think that we're going to risk players like Coloccini, Anita, Perch, Krul or even Simpson in a match that with very little tangible benefit in play, though. Either way, it's going to be interesting to see where Pardew shakes out on this one.