Newcastle play the second match of their US tour this evening as they take on Orlando City in what will surely be searing temperatures in the Citrus Bowl.
The added bonus for fans that won’t be at the game is the fact that the match is being broadcast by the Orlando City website so if you feel like having a bit of a late one you can stay up and watch it online should you choose to. To get to the Orlando City website simply click this link here.
Onto team news, and I guess the biggest (and most obvious) thing is the loss of Hatem Ben Arfa. I won’t dwell on his loss too much but suffice to say that between his agent, himself, and the club the timescale for his recovery has been pegged at anywhere between three weeks to three months although nothing is official as yet.
Joey Barton, Yohan Cabaye, Nile Ranger and Mike Williamson will all play later on this afternoon for the ressies in Holland, which is worth keeping an eye on in the interim, whilst Jose Enrique is doubtful due to his “hamstring strain” which kept him out of the Kansas match whilst Shane Ferguson and Danny Guthrie are both out.
On our opponents, with the greatest of respect it’s a step down from the MLS side we faced in Kansas City as Orlando play in the third tier of American soccer (I would have said football but that would have given us a different game entirely!) so it’s hard to gauge just what test we will be faced with. Mind you, the heat is a great leveller so it won’t be easy.
Taking a stab at naming a team is often very hard to do when it comes to pre-season. In reality I’d imagine that most of the players who are out in the US will get a game tonight, but if it was up to me I’d go with a team that looks something like:
Newcastle (4-2-3-1): Tim Krul, Ryan Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini, Steven Taylor, Danny Simpson, Cheik Tiote, Dan Gosling, Sylvain Marveaux, Haris Vuckic, Jonas Gutierrez , Demba Ba.
Something like that anyway bearing in mind that it’s mainly about fitness at this point. It would also give some of the younger players a chance to impress from the bench and would give young Haris a run out in his favoured position. Win-win.
I guess the most important part of the game this evening will be making sure that we don’t pick up any more injuries, certainly not to first team players anyway. A decent performance and a win would be nice, but not at any cost. Remember, the Citrus Bowl has an artificial pitch which worries me if I’m being honest.
If you are going to tune in don’t forget that the kick-off is at 00:30 UK time, which is 19:30 over in Florida.
Howay the lads!