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Newcastle boss wary of Fulham

last updated Friday 14th December 2007, 10:07 AM
Sam Allardyce
Sam Allardyce

DAMIEN Duff made a scoring return to action for Newcastle in a behind-closed-doors friendly yesterday – but neither he nor Brazilian defender Claudio Caçapa will play at Fulham tomorrow.

United manager Sam Allardyce was delighted to see the pair come through the game against a Hartlepool United XI unscathed, but he will not take a chance on either of them as the Magpies look to rediscover their winning touch on the road against a Fulham side with one of the worst home records in the Premier League.

Duff will not even travel to the capital so that he can work on his fitness on Tyneside, while Caçapa will only be considered for a spot on the bench as Allardyce looks ahead to a gruelling Festive fixture list.

“The game will come a week or two too early for Damien because he is well short of match practice,” said Allardyce, who warned the Magpies that Fulham are a far better team than their lowly league position would suggest.

“He came through the game well and scored, but we’re not going to take any silly risks. He is just really happy to be out on the pitch again and the light at the end of

the tunnel is a really big one for him now. I’m sure he’s very relieved and we are looking forward to having a fit and firing Damien Duff available for selection.

“I don’t know when that will be. He needs another couple of behind-closed-doors games before he can be considered for the first team and the problem is the reserve league shuts down for Christmas. We’re desperately trying to get some games for him.”

Caçapa will be in the squad which travels to London this afternoon, but the Brazilian will not come straight back into the team, even though his manager is adamant the blunders in his last game – the 4-1 home defeat to Portsmouth on November 3 – are long forgotten.

He said: “That game is so far gone, it has gone down the River Tyne, into the sea and it’s on its way to bloody France now. We will not be talking about that again.

“Caçapa looked good and he will be back in the squad on Saturday. But I can’t see him starting the game, he’s still a little rusty and he’s short on match practice.

“Like Duffer, he needs a bit longer yet, but it will be great to be able to use them at some point over the busy Christmas period because the squad is going to be stretched.”

Allardyce hopes to add to his squad in January, but while he would like to sign Manchester United centre-back Wes Brown, he said: “I don’t know if Wes Brown will be allowed to leave Manchester United in January, I’m not convinced he will, so for the moment, we are having to look at targets elsewhere.”

Fulham have won just two games at home in the league all season and are only kept out of the relegation zone by their superior goal difference to Sunderland. Newcastle, meanwhile, have won just once on the road so far under Allardyce and the Newcastle boss knows something has to give tomorrow.

He said: “I think Fulham are a better team than their league position suggests. They have been in the lead a lot this season and drawn games they should have won and lost games they should have drawn. They have conceded a lot of late goals, but they are close to being a top-half-of-the-table side in my opinion. They are a bit like us because we could be in a higher position than we are for the same reason. We’ve been talking about the need to be better at the back all season, in fact we’re sick of talking about it.

“It’s time to go out there and do it on the pitch.”
















































Source Luke Edwards at The Journal
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