Leon Best, who missed Newcastle's last match against Stoke City with an ankle injury, could be out for the rest of the season, according to The Sun. It was just a few days ago that Alan Pardew expressed his hope that Best could find himself fit for Saturday's clash with Wolverhampton, so the news, if true, comes as a surprise. (Luke Edwards, The Journal)
If true (and I do want to express my skepticism until I see confirmation from another source), I believe that it's now safe to characterize this squad as injury-riddled. Injured players as of this moment include Hatem Ben Arfa, Dan Gosling, Jose Enrique Sanchez, Alan Smith, and Stephen Ireland (though he is expected to play this weekend). Joey Barton just returned from missing two matches and Shola Ameobi is playing with a fitted mask due to a broken cheekbone. Obviously, the absence of Best would deplete Alan Pardew's options even further, but the injury to Best specifically is damaging because he's emerged as the team's primary goalscorer, having scored 3 of the team's 6 goals since the departure of Andy Carroll and 6 overall in just 10 appearances. (By the way, that's 6 goals in 7 games. Ugly.)
Pardew's striker corps now consists of Shola Ameobi, who has done everything but score since donning the mask, Shefki Kuqi, who has made 3 appearances for the club, all in garbage time, Nile Ranger, who has shown a lack of finishing and hasn't done himself any favors by consistently showing up late for practice, and Peter Lovenkrands, who has received plenty of playing time but hasn't done anything at all the last few games.
I'll continue to maintain that the Carroll sale was the right decision, but the Magpies are in a bad way when it comes to their front line right now.