Alan Pardew has recently said how sorry he feels for some of the players on the fringes at the moment and how much he would like to give them a chance at some point.
I would think these players understand, as at any club, it is extremely difficult to change a winning side. They will have to wait for their opportunity and to my knowledge there has been no toys thrown out of the pram as yet.
Obviously when these chances do come along it is imperative that anyone looking to stake a claim for a spot in the strongest starting eleven needs to do their upmost to impress and give Pardew real food for thought.
Although it is a risk to make wholesale changes at the moment, looking at the run of fixtures preceding the two trips to Manchester and home game against Chelsea there is an opportunity to give some their chance to shine and prove they should be on the pitch when we face the big three come the end of November.
First up is Wigan at St James Park. With Wigan only taking one point from four away games to date, conceding thirteen goals in their last five games and struggling to score with only six goals in eight games, this is a match Newcastle should definitely be looking to take all three points from.
I think a home fixture to one of the weaker sides in the Premier League does open up the opportunity to make a change or two at minimal risk. Personally I would like to see Sylvain Marveaux and Hatem Ben Arfa start. The two to make way being Gabriel Obertan and Leon Best. Both have played well in my opinion but at the same time are the two in the attack in most need of reminding their positions in the starting eleven are far from sewn up.
Davide Santon also deserves a shot from the start as does Dan Gosling but for a must win game I would like to see the defensive side of the team remain intact for the moment. I think their opportunity will come sooner rather than later with the Carling Cup tie and it is not worth the risk making too many changes for Wigan.
The Carling Cup game at Blackburn is next up after Wigan and I would expect as with our previous cup ties that Pardew will make wholesale changes to the side despite it being Premier League opposition. Again I would expect Marveaux and Ben Arfa to start and play ninety minutes. Along with those two I would fully expect Davide Santon, Dan Gosling, Shola Ameobi, Peter Lovenkrands, Danny Guthrie and maybe James Perch to start.
The only others I would like to see would be Shane Ferguson, Mehdi Abeid, Haris Vuckic and Sammy Aeobi although I can`t see any of them starting the game. For a cup we look like really pushing for this season it is of course a risk to make so many changes and I don`t know how other fans would feel at this stage, maybe we would be better served sticking with our full strength side?
The reason I think Pardew will make changes is the following two fixtures don`t leave too much room for experimentation. Stoke at the Britannia Stadium is never an easy fixture and will be a battle more than a game for finesse and taking risks.
I would fully expect us to revert back to the tried and tested for this one. It is not a game that will suit the likes of Ben Arfa and the only change I could possibly see from our first eleven to date would be maybe Davide Santon coming in for Danny Simpson, simply because of the set piece and aerial threat that Stoke will try and make the most of.
The final game before an international break and the trips to Manchester will be Everton at home. Again, not a game I would like to see us experiment or take risks in but given the opportunity to do so before then and the massive fixtures after this match, it will be the final opportunity to have a look at what exactly is the strongest eleven to take the field against the title contenders.
It is a home fixture which should make us confident of getting a result and by then I would expect one or two will have made an impression. The one man we might see on the pitch by then is Hatem Ben Arfa. With significant smile material in the memory bank from the last time he faced up against Everton a lot of fans will want to see him on the pitch and by the sounds of things he will want to be a regular fixture by that stage too, he wants to be now.
The only others I can realistically see making enough of an impact to be in consideration by then are Marveaux and Santon. I think Marveaux could well be in the side ahead of Obertan by then to be honest. Another performance like he had against Nottingham Forest and a couple of cameos in the league and he will have done enough to warrant a place in the starting line-up in my opinion.
As for Santon I`m not so sure. It seems to be the case that we are slowly integrating him in, letting him get settled, improve his English etc. Basically there seems to be no rush to get him in the starting eleven as the defence is doing a good job, but in saying that he has the potential to demand a starting spot and is looked upon to be a first team player, so he has every chance.
All speculation aside, the next four games provide a great opportunity to experiment and give some promising signings a real chance to prove their worth. Come the end of November there won`t be the same opportunity to have a look and tinker.
By the time we play the Manchester sides and Chelsea I would imagine Pardew will want to be 100% on what his strongest eleven is, and even beyond those games we then hit the hectic Christmas schedule which won`t provide the same opportunity to experiment. Everyone will need to be fit, ready and up to competitive speed to get through that period and be in a good position to push on come January.
For the moment, what a luxury to have. To be debating on how to get players like Ben Arfa, Marveaux, Santon and others into your starting line-up. No wonder there is renewed confidence on Tyneside.
What do others think? Should we use the next few games to give fringe players a chance or stick with the tried and tested who have us in the position we are in?