Hughton has faith in defensive duo
Published 26/11/2010 | 15:10
Newcastle boss Chris Hughton will have no qualms about throwing Sol Campbell and Steven Taylor in at the deep end against champions Chelsea.
The pair are expected to take over from the suspended Fabricio Coloccini and Mike Williamson for the Blues' Barclays Premier League visit to St James' Park on Sunday despite barely having kicked a ball between them this season.
Campbell has made only one start for the club he joined during the summer to date - the Carling Cup victory at Chelsea on September 22 - while local boy Taylor has not played a competitive game since January because of a succession of injuries.
However, they are likely to get their chance this weekend and Hughton is confident they will rise to the challenge.
He said: "They are both very, very good players. One thing you learn the more years you are in football is you have to adapt.
"You end up losing players and you have to adapt to it.
"Sometimes that can strengthen you, sometimes it doesn't, but what you have to do is get on with it, be very, very positive about what you do have and the qualities you have, and hopefully that will show on Sunday.
"It is not just us, most clubs losing their two central defenders would be stretched - we have seen that, of course, even at the club the magnitude of Chelsea.
"What we do have available in that position at the moment is Steven Taylor and Sol Campbell.
"Both Steven and Sol have been fit for a while - what they are lacking is getting up to speed as regards matches."
Former England international Campbell, 36, has vast experience, but has endured a frustrating first few months on Tyneside with niggling injuries limiting his involvement.
Hughton said: "He would have hoped to have played - and I am quite sure he would have played - more football, but these things happen.
"He is a vastly experienced player who has played against the top teams, and that experience has been good around the place.
"He is a very good individual, a very good football individual and he has made a nice impact around the place."
Taylor's prolonged absence is the result of ankle and shoulder injuries either side of a fractured jaw allegedly suffered in a training ground incident.
He is also at the centre of a contract wrangle with his existing deal due to expire at the end of the season and no fresh arrangement in place, a fact which has attracted several potential suitors.
Hughton, however, remains hopeful of retaining the 24-year-old's services, although that situation has not even come into his thinking for this weekend.
He said: "At the moment, we have four natural centre-halves and two of them are out suspended.
"We are still very confident and very much want Steven to stay at this football club, very much so."
Hughton's reliance on Campbell and Taylor is the result of an indisciplined afternoon at Bolton last Saturday when the pain of a 5-1 defeat was compounded by Coloccini's dismissal for catching striker Johan Elmander with a flailing arm and Mike Williamson's punishment on video evidence of violent conduct against the same player.
The Magpies unsuccessfully challenged the charge although Hughton, had earlier insisted the offence - which was not spotted by match referee Howard Webb at the time - was worthy only of a yellow card.
He said: "We challenged it and the fact that the ban stayed at three games certainly showed it was worthwhile us doing that.
"But it's something we have to get on with now and it gives somebody else that opportunity.
"It will be a very tough ask and a tough game against a very good Chelsea side, but these are the opportunities people wait for."