Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Festive Plans in Tatters for Boss; Keeper Injury Forces a Late United Switch

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Festive Plans in Tatters for Boss; Keeper Injury Forces a Late United Switch

Article excerpt

Byline: Stuart Rayner

A FEW Christmas dinners will have been spoilt yesterday after Shay Given threw Newcastle United's Boxing Day plans into uncertainty.

Despite Glenn Roeder's insistence that he does not like fielding players who are carrying injuries, the United vice-captain has had a groin injury in recent weeks and it finally caught up with him in Saturday's 3-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur.

Goal-kicking duties were handed over to Peter Ramage early in the second half and Given was eventually substituted three minutes from time.

Now the Irishman is a doubt for today's game at Bolton Wanderers and, with the 30-year-old allowed as much time as possible to prove his fitness, veteran Pavel Srnicek has had to prepare for the possibility of a first Newcastle start in nine years, while Tim Krul's Christmas plans were shelved at the last minute.

"Shay has a slight groin problem, we've kept it quiet for a few weeks now," Roeder revealed. "Shay's a very tough person and didn't want to come off but sometimes you have to make those decisions for them. He's a warrior and warriors never give in so I wouldn't rule him out of the Bolton game."

As if three games in the next six days did not make the timing bad enough, regular second choice Steve Harper is still recovering from a groin injury of his own, Dutch youngster Krul had been sent back home for Christmas only hours earlier and Saturday's substitute Srnicek has just six minutes of competitive football under his belt this season.

Unsurprisingly, Srnicek looked rusty against Spurs, his kicking especially so, but Roeder has no problems in thrusting him into action if required.

Indeed, the Czech international has been given a contract until the end of the season.

"Pav has not been round the block once but several times," Roeder pointed out. "He'll pick it up very quickly.

Against Tottenham he showed no nerves. He'll certainly be doing some kicking practice before the Bolton game, though. Joking apart, he's got the experience that will give young players a lot of conf idence."

A regular in Kevin Keegan's side of the mid-90s, Srnicek received an incredible ovation on Saturday from a crowd who had clearly not forgotten him, despite his last appearance coming more than nine years earlier. Roeder admitted he was taken aback at just how warmly the Czech was greeted.

Krul had only had two days' training since a November operation on his cartilage. Roeder therefore allowed the 18-year-old to spend Christmas with his family on Saturday only to recall him almost immediately as he will be needed on the bench at the Reebok Stadium if Given cannot play.

"Tim Krul was recalled from a flight to Amsterdam on Saturday night," Roeder added. "He probably only had chance to have breakfast with his parents! …

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