NEWCASTLE United are ready to put their bodies on the line as they battle to return to Europe.
Alan Pardew’s injury-hit side take on Liverpool at St James’s Park on Sunday.
And United can all but end Kenny Dalglish’s side’s hopes of finishing sixth in the Premier League in the sold-out fixture, which sees Andy Carroll and Jose Enrique make their first returns to the stadium since their controversial departures.
Newcastle, level on points with fifth-placed Chelsea, still harbour hopes of claiming an automatic Europa League place.
Pardew’s been hit by a series of injuries over the past few months, the latest being the hamstring problem which has ruled captain Fabricio Coloccini out of the Liverpool game.
However, Pardew and his assistant, John Carver, aren’t looking for excuses ahead of the televised clash.
And Carver believes the whole is greater than the sum of the parts at United, such has been the influence of those on the fringes of the team, with the likes of Danny Guthrie and James Perch, among others, having made significant contributions to the cause.
“We had 10 games to go, and now we’ve had two wins from that, with eight left,” said Carver.
“We now need everybody committed and as many bodies on the line for the run-in. We’ve been like this all season.
“The manager hasn’t spoken about injuries or made excuses – we don’t make excuses.
“We have a situation where we have said from day one it is about the squad.
“The pleasing thing from our point of view is that it’s been about the squad.
“Every single player has contributed to where we are now. That has to continue to happen between now and the end of the season.
“We don’t just say it for the sake of it. It’s important that we actually underline that we need these players.
“We knew we would at some stage because of how demanding the Premier League is.”
Meanwhile, Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish insists their impending Wembley FA Cup semi-final with Everton at Wembley will not be a distraction as they try to get results back on track.
Five defeats in six league matches, most recently at home to Wigan Athletic, have seen some critics suggest the players have all but given up on fourth place to focus instead on the knockout competition.
“The game is two weeks away, so I’m sure there’ll be a lot of conversations about Everton nearer the time,” said Dalglish.
“But for us, the most important game right at this particular moment in time is Newcastle.
“We’ll play Newcastle first, and take it from there.
“The semi-final against Everton will be covered when it needs to be covered, and we won’t be getting ahead of ourselves.”