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Moyes spoilt for choice

By Chris Kirwan
September 11 2003

There has been plenty of time to reflect on the derby day loss to Liverpool, and Saturday presents the chance to put things right with a tough game against Newcastle. Saturday will present the first chance to see the new additions to the squad in action. But the involvement of three of Moyes’ deadline day signings may be limited. It has to be assumed that McFadden, Jeffers and Martyn have not usurped their respective competitors for first team shirts. This will especially be the case for McFadden and Jeffers who have been away on international duty since signing. But Martyn will take over should Wright’s knee problem still be an issue.

Kilbane may slot in on the left side of midfield, pushing Naysmith back to his preferred position of left back. But Naysmith’s exertions for Scotland and the presence of Unsworth at training may tilt the balance in Unsworth’s favour. Similarly Pistone may hold off Hibbert’s challenge.

Gravesen will presumably fill the void left by Mark Pembridge and partner Tobias Linderoth in the centre of midfield. The Dane will no doubt get a rousing reception from the travelling Geordies after his tackle in the lead up to the winner last year. Carsley could be involved, though he only completed the first half of the Republic’s game on Saturday and may still be struggling for full fitness.

The jostling for the places at centre back may have been fierce this week. After an iffy start to the season Moyes may be considering reintroducing David Weir, or possibly involving Peter Clarke in some way after a terrific display at Goodison for the u21s.

Then the dilemma of how to use Wayne Rooney. Moyes should resist any temptation to rest Rooney. Moyes himself stated last week that training at international level was not as exhausting, so Rooney should be fresh and ready to go. He was simply fantastic for England, with his natural talent making the new position of playing ‘in the hole’ a formality. He was excellent in the league cup and Goodison Park victories over Newcastle last season, and hopefully he will torment them again. The availability of Jeffers and Ferguson may temp Moyes into resting Rooney, but with him in such inspiring form his presence could be the catalyst for maximum points.

Newcastle have once again made a poor start to the season, with the European Cup loss the biggest disappointment to “everybody’s second favourite team”. Newcastle have not been playing with the same pace and verve as last year, and need Dyer and Bellamy to start showing the form that they are capable of.

In the absence of Bellamy Shola Ameobi has been partnering Alan Shearer, a pairing that Moyes would be happy to see on the team sheet. The Everton defence has a tendency to be caught flat-footed, and the pace of Bellamy would be a constant threat. It was a shame that the horrible little beast was suspended for the midweek Wales game, as Sir Bobby may have been tempted to rest him had he played 180 minutes in 1 week so soon after recovering from injury.

The Newcastle defence is a dodgy as ever, and rely heavily on Jonathan Woodgate. Woodgate is one of the best defenders in England (as he showed at Goodison last year, defending well, and spraying the ball out wide for Robert’s goal), and Newcastle desperately need his organisational skills. Important to the Newcastle defence is the protection provided by Gary Speed, and he will be as threatening as ever from corners and freekicks.

But the Blues showed last season that they have the weaponry to trouble Newcastle with an excellent win at Goodison, and a penalty shootout victory and a late loss at St James’. Moyes is (for once) spoilt for choice in his team selection, and will have plenty of options on the bench. Maybe Big Dunc could produce the goods against his old club, or maybe Jeffers will return with a bang. But if recent games between the clubs are anything to go by it will certainly be eventful.

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