Pardew waits on trio
Alan Pardew is waiting on the fitness of Joey Barton, Jose Enrique and Jonas Gutierrez ahead of the trip to Stoke.
Last Updated: 17/03/11 5:03pm
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew is waiting on the fitness of Joey Barton, Jose Enrique and Jonas Gutierrez ahead of Saturday's trip to Stoke.
Pardew is hopeful Barton will be able to return from a thigh problem which has kept him out of the last two games, although the midfielder will not be risked if he is not 100 per cent fit.
At left-back, first-choice Enrique is struggling with a hamstring strain and is rated 'very doubtful', while potential emergency replacement Jonas Gutierrez is also a doubt.
Pardew said: "Jose and Jonas, we have just got to see after training tomorrow, really.
"You are pitching them in without training after 10 to 14 days in a Premier League game where it is almost like warfare at times at their place, so I will be careful what I do.
"I would have to be 100% sure they are right.
"We think Joey has got a good chance - he did the warm-up today. Jose looks very doubtful; Jonas did the warm-up today, but he looks a bit doubtful."
Enrique pulled up shortly before half-time in the 2-1 defeat by Everton, prompting a reshuffle which initially saw specialist right-back Danny Simpson, who at the time was playing in midfield, drop in at left-back before Northern Irish youngster Shane Ferguson got his chance for the last 25 minutes.
Pardew added: "I don't know (who will get the nod). My selection will be based around being strong enough to cope with what they (Stoke) do.
"They don't really carve you open with inter-play, it is set-plays and second phases and aggression and forceful play, and you have got to be able to cope with that.
"That's something I will think about when I select the team."
Saturday's game will be one of just two Newcastle play in March because of their early exit from the FA Cup and the forthcoming break for international matches.
Pardew added: "It's not really an ideal situation for us. We ended up with a lot of injuries over the Christmas period when games were so congested - ridiculously so - and now we find ourselves with one game in the best part of a month.
"It can't be right. For us, it is difficult because we are trying to keep the focus of the players.
"We have this game, when we have had a two-week break leading into it, and we are going to have a two-week break coming out of it, so it's far from ideal.
"But with the players I have and the experience I have, hopefully we will be able to cope with that."