Newcastle duo Joey Barton and Jose Enrique unlikely to be risked at Stoke

18 March 2011 01:42
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew faces a series of late selection decisions ahead of a tough trip to Stoke as his walking wounded close in on returns.

Midfielder Joey Barton, who has sat out the last two games with a thigh problem, is closest to making Saturday's Barclays Premier League clash at the Britannia Stadium, but Pardew will not risk him if he is not 100 per cent fit.

The 28-year-old former Manchester City player, who has been in the best from of his Magpies career to date this season, was a huge miss in the home fixtures against Bolton and Everton which yielded just a single point, and his manager's desperation to have him back is understandable.

Fitness: Newcastle's Joey Barton and Jose Enrique are struggling with knocks

But he knows throwing Barton into the mix too early could aggravate his injury, and with loan signing Stephen Ireland yet to make his debut for the club after suffering a similar problem following his return to training, that is something he cannot really afford.

However, Pardew faces perhaps a bigger challenge at left-back with first-choice Jose Enrique struggling with the hamstring strain he suffered against Everton and rated 'very doubtful', while potential emergency replacement Jonas Gutierrez is similarly afflicted, if to a lesser degree.

Headache: Alan Pardew is down to his bare bones after a raft of injuries

Pardew said: 'Jose and Jonas, we have just got to see after training tomorrow, really. You are pitching them in without training after 10 to 14 days in a Premier League game where it is almost like warfare at times at their place, so I will be careful what I do. I would have to be 100% sure they are right.

'We think Joey has got a good chance - he did the warm-up today. Jose looks very doubtful; Jonas did the warm-up today, but he looks a bit doubtful.'

Enrique pulled up shortly before half-time in the 2-1 defeat by Everton, prompting a reshuffle which initially saw specialist right-back Danny Simpson, who at the time was playing in midfield, drop in at left-back. 

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Source: Daily_Mail