Friday 15 December 2017

Carver defends transfer decisions

Newcastle head coach John Carver is confident midfielder Siem de Jong, pictured, will return fitter and stronger after undergoing surgery on a collapsed lung
Newcastle head coach John Carver is confident midfielder Siem de Jong, pictured, will return fitter and stronger after undergoing surgery on a collapsed lung

Head coach John Carver has defended Newcastle's decision not to buy a defender in January.

The 50-year-old is one injury or suspension away from a major crisis after Wales international Paul Dummett was ruled out for up to 12 weeks by the knee injury he suffered at Crystal Palace last Wednesday evening, leaving the club with only four fit senior defenders.

However, Carver has insisted there was no need to recruit back-up during the winter transfer window despite Steven Taylor's absence for the remainder of the season and the departures of Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Davide Santon and Remie Streete.

He said: "Two weeks ago, we were one player away from having a fully-fit squad. I was so excited about that. Who is to say that's not the end of it?

"It's always a concern when you lose player, especially of the quality we have lost. You can get away with losing one or two young lads.

"There's nothing I can do about it. If you look at the injuries - Siem [de Jong], Cheick [Tiote], Dummett, Taylor, four of our big players have serious injuries, not muscle strains.

"You'd normally get one or two of those in a season - we got three in a week. It's a bit unfortunate. It's no good sulking or making excuses, that's life and we have to deal with it."

Dummett's injury is a particular blow as he can play at both left-back and in central defence, and while Ryan Taylor and Vurnon Anita have filled in at full-back in the past, Carver's only real option if either Fabricio Coloccini of Mike Williamson, the club's only two fit and available central defenders, was missing would be to ask right-back Daryl Janmaat to move inside.

Carver said: "The good news is he doesn't have to have an operation, but he is out for between 10 and 12 weeks.

"It's quite ironic because Yannick Bolasie, who I know really well, rang me and apologised. He said, 'It was an accident, John', and I said, 'I know it was. It wasn't your fault'. He was concerned about it and it was just a clash of knees, a total accident, a freak accident."

The knee injury with which Tiote returned from the African Nations Cup is still being assessed, although the signs are that he too could face a lengthy absence, while De Jong is likely to miss most, if not all, of the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery to repair a collapsed lung.

It is the second time the Holland international has suffered the problem, but the procedure he has undergone should ensure there is no repeat.

De Jong has managed just three appearances for the Magpies since his £6million summer move from Ajax because of injury, but Carver will keep him involved as he recovers.

He said: "I haven't put a timeline on it. The most important thing is how he feels. This was a big operation he had, so it's really in his hands. We won't force him before he is ready to come back.

"He's such a positive guy he might be back quicker than anyone expects.

"I might ask him to come in and watch the Under-21s and give me a little bit of feedback on the Under-21s, or the youth team or something like that. I want to make him feel part of the club because I think he's a little bit frustrated because he's come here with a big reputation and he's not been able to get on the pitch and give something to the fans.

"He got so close and then it's like chopping his legs away, so I need to have a discussion with him, but if I can use him around the place I'd be mad not to."

Meanwhile, midfielder Remy Cabella could miss Saturday's trip to Manchester City with a knee problem suffered in training.

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