Hughton excited by Chelsea test

The Magpies head for Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night on the back

of their impressive 1-0 Premier League victory at Everton to face a

side who have plundered 12 goals in just three games to date this

season on their own pitch. Perhaps more worryingly, they scored six

without reply against last season’s Championship runners-up West

Brom and on Saturday, struck four times within the opening 41

minutes to see off play-off winners Blackpool. Newcastle, who

strolled to the Championship title last season, headed south

knowing their task could hardly be more difficult as they attempt

to become the first visiting side to find the back of the net at

the Bridge during the new campaign while at the same time hoping to

repel Carlo Ancelotti’s seemingly irresistible attack. But while

the prospect of trying to keep the likes of Didier Drogba, Nicolas

Anelka and Florent Malouda at bay may cause the odd sleepless

night, former Tottenham and Republic of Ireland defender Hughton

insists his players should be looking forward to it. He said with a

smile: “You go to bed the night before hoping they can’t play!

Actually, it’s the complete opposite. “Although it’s a Carling Cup

game, which is away from the pressure of the league, these are the

games you want to be involved in, these are the games you want the

players to be involved in. “With all due respect to the other

teams, going to your Old Traffords and your Stamford Bridges and

your Emirates, they are the really tough competitive games that you

want the players to be involved in. “It’s one more to look forward

to than to fear – and, of course, there isn’t that pressure on us.

“I don’t think people expect us to win, so we go there without that

pressure.” In terms of Newcastle’s priorities this season, the

Carling Cup is not high on the list. That is not a reflection of

any disrespect for the competition, simply an acknowledgement that

top-flight survival and the financial stability it would bring is

the overwhelming objective. As a result, Hughton will use the depth

of his squad with one eye on Sunday’s home clash with Stoke. He

said: “I don’t think it would be unfair to say it is not the

biggest of our priorities, but we very much have respect for this

competition and even more so, a respect for Chelsea Football Club,

who have started the season so well. “We will make sure we put out

a side that’s capable of coping very well with them. “You are

always concerned up against a top-quality Chelsea side who are

scoring goals for fun, and certainly with the home record they have

got. “But you have also got to have faith in the squad you have and

the abilities we have. “We will make sure we go there with a side

which is capable of getting something.” Keeper Tim Krul is likely

to deputise for the injured Steve Harper with 20-year-old Swede Ole

Soderberg providing the back-up, at least until the full extent of

the damage to Harper’s shoulder is known. England international Sol

Campbell will make his debut after working his way to full fitness,

and the arrivals of Hatem Ben Arfa and Cheik Tiote mean the manager

has a bigger pool of players from which to select. Hughton said:

“We are fortunate. With the newer players who have come in, Tiote

and Ben Arfa, playing on Saturday, it has increased the squad we

have. “There were also what we regard as first-team players who

didn’t participate on Saturday, which has given us a bigger squad

to chose from, and I certainly will be using that squad to good

effect.”