Newcastle United boss John Carver pins hopes on players who can handle the pressure
John Carver says he’ll pin Newcastle United’s final-day hopes on only the shoulders of those players who can handle the pressure of the club’s biggest game in six years.
Carver’s 17th-placed side must beat West Ham United at St James’s Park on Sunday to be certain of Premier League survival.
If third-from-bottom Hull City beat Manchester United at the KC Stadium, a draw won’t be enough to keep the club in the division.
Head coach Carver is considering recalling striker Papiss Demba Cisse to his starting XI, while fit-again forward Siem de Jong is vying for a place on the bench.
But the make-up of the team will be as much about attitude and application as ability, according to Carver, whose side have taken just one point from a possible 30.
“There’s a lot of things to think about in terms of the team,” said Carver.
“But it’s going to be important to pick the kind of characters that can handle the game.
“Being able to handle the situation is going to be absolutely crucial.
“It’s going to be so important that the players can deal with whatever is thrown at them.”
Cisse has come off the bench in the club’s last two games after serving a seven-match for spitting, but he is still short of match fitness after having a screw removed from his knee in March.
However, the 29-year-old – the club’s 11-goal leading scorer – is firmly in Carver’s thoughts ahead of the West Ham game.
“Papiss has had another week of training, and that’s important,” said Carver.
“He’s the club’s top goalscorer, so that’s obviously something that comes into your thinking.”
De Jong, meanwhile, has been working on his fitness over the past fortnight, having sat out the Queens Park Rangers defeat last weekend and the 1-1 draw against West Bromwich Albion earlier this month.
The 26-year-old – who suffered a collapsed lung in February and missed the first half of the season after undergoing surgery for a torn thigh muscle – rejoined training this week.
“Siem trained on Tuesday and Wednesday, so we’ll see,” said Carver.
“After that, everybody else who was available before the QPR game is available for selection.”
Newcastle were last relegated on the final day of the 2008-09 season.
A deflected goal against Aston Villa at Villa Park condemned the club to the Championship.