Bolton Wanderers v Newcastle United: Preview
Bolton boss Owen Coyle believes Newcastle run the risk of losing their manager Chris Hughton if his contract situation is not resolved quickly.
Hughton took up the reins at St James' Park on a caretaker basis in the aftermath of the Magpies' relegation from the Barclays Premier League in 2009, and having signed a permanent contract soon after, guided them back into the top flight at the first time of asking as Championship winners.
The team's progress has continued this term and earlier this month Newcastle sat fifth in the table following an impressive 1-0 victory at Arsenal.
On that evidence, it seems a formality that Hughton - whose current deal finishes at the end of this campaign - would be offered a new contract.
However, the club were forced to issue a statement in October confirming their intention to negotiate with the 51-year-old by the turn of the year following rumours his job was under threat.
Coyle finds it "incredible" there was such speculation given what Hughton has achieved and feels if Newcastle want to keep hold of him, they must act soon.
"The situation arose where he was given the opportunity, but he has earned everything he has got to this point," said Coyle, whose side host Newcastle.
"The sooner that contract situation is sorted out the better because they run the risk of losing him because of the quality he has.
"There is no doubt in my mind that he is desperate to stay at Newcastle because of the size of the club, the job he has done and the group of players he has.
"So the sooner they sort that, the better."
Coyle thinks Hughton's attitude has been exemplary in dealing with the various problems that have arisen during his time in charge of the Tyneside club.
"I think Newcastle have been a breath of fresh air this year - you look at the job Chris has done and it is truly remarkable," Coyle said.
"You see the little bits of sniping that went on regarding Chris last month - when they went out of the Premier League there was absolute turmoil at that football club.
"The one constant at the club was how calm and focused Chris stayed, knowing he could do that job and bring a huge football club back to the Premier League.
"They did it in tremendous style in the Championship and they have carried that on this season. Through all the speculation and conjecture, he has stayed calm."
Bolton defender Gretar Steinsson is available after serving a one-match suspension.
Steinsson sat out Saturday's 3-2 win at Wolves having picked up his fifth booking of the season in the previous game against Everton.
Fabrice Muamba should be fit despite pulling out of the England Under-21s squad earlier this week with a thigh problem, but Joey O'Brien, Ricardo Gardner, Jlloyd Samuel and Sean Davis are all still sidelined.
Hughton has warned Andy Carroll to keep his feet firmly on the ground as his stock continues to rise.
The 21-year-old striker did his blossoming reputation on the pitch little harm with a creditable display on his senior England debut on Wednesday evening, and although his off-the-field problems have been well documented, speculation over his future is already mounting.
But amid talk of some of the Barclays Premier League's big guns monitoring his progress, Carroll has been told that the good times he has enjoyed so far this season could just as quickly turn to bad if he does not maintain his standards.
Hughton, who will hope to have his in-form frontman available for the trip to Bolton following an injury scare at the beginning of the week, said: "It's something you don't think about.
"You can't afford to think about those things and the reason you don't think about them is you know what the game is.
"At this moment, he is on a high. He is playing very well, he has made his England debut - but he is a striker and strikers will go through barren spells where perhaps they are not playing so well and where they are not scoring goals."
However, Hughton will be without midfielders Cheik Tiote and Joey Barton, who are both suspended.
Utility man Ryan Taylor will be missing for three months after undergoing surgery to repair ankle ligament damage suffered in training last week, and keeper Steve Harper is around three weeks away from returning to training following his shoulder injury.
Leon Best (ankle) is gradually working his way back to full match fitness and Dan Gosling (knee) is stepping up his training regime, but Hatem Ben Arfa (double leg fracture) remains a long-term absentee.
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