Karl Darlow feels Newcastle United’s creaking squad CAN cope with the club’s injury crisis.
Dwight Gayle, Isaac Hayden and Vurnon Anita have joined Aleksandar Mitrovic in the treatment room.
Whoever comes in and replaces the other one has just as much quality.
The trio suffered injuries in Saturday’s 2-1 Championship win over Brentford at Griffin Park.
United manager Rafa Benitez – who has lost Mohamed Diame, Christian Atsu and Chancel Mbemba to the Africa Cup of Nations – has just 16 senior players available for tomorrow night’s third-round FA Cup replay against Birmingham City at St James’s Park.
Benitez hopes to strengthen his squad before the transfer window closes at the end of the month.
In the meantime, goalkeeper Darlow – who himself started the season on the bench – feels those players who have, up to now, been on the fringes of Benitez’s team can step up.
Darlow has pointed to the contribution of Daryl Murphy, who came off the bench to score Newcastle’s winner against Brentford.
“I think it’s been spoken about a lot that we’ve got a great squad,” said Darlow. “Whoever comes in and replaces the other one has just as much quality.
“The lads on the bench are obviously keen to play, and when they get their chance they have to take it. Murphy scored the winner, which was fantastic.”
Gayle opened the scoring at Griffin Park before limping off with a hamstring problem.
The 20-goal striker, expected to miss a number of games, is being assessed by the club’s medical staff.
Darlow said: “Obviously, Dwight’s a massive player for us and has been fantastic. To see him go off was tough on us, but Murph came on and scored the winner, which was excellent.
“He’s trained very hard behind the scenes, and is a great player.”
The Brentford result, coupled with Brighton and Hove Albion’s weekend defeat, saw United return to the top of the Championship.
“We just need to carry on doing what we’re doing,” said Darlow. “We’ve got a great amount of points for this time in the season, so as long as we can replicate that in the second half of the season, we should be fine.
“We know we need to keep on building and keep on working hard.”
Darlow had a busy afternoon at Griffin Park, where Brentford took control after Gayle’s enforced withdrawal.
“For a while, maybe the 30-minute mark onwards, they played some terrific stuff,” said the 26-year-old.
“They really tested us, and you have to give them credit, really, for playing so well. We took two chances, and somehow managed to hold on, which was crucial for us as it put us back on top.”
Newcastle had to survive nine minutes of added time, and Darlow admitted he did a double-take when the fourth official revealed how many extra minutes would be have to be played.
Darlow said: “When the fourth official put the sign up (for nine minutes added time), I thought it was a substitution – I thought the No 9 was coming off!
“I’ve not seen nine minutes since I’ve been playing. It was a real mental effort to get through those nine minutes. At the end of the day, you have to grind these performances out away from home, which we have been doing.
“It was a massive three points for us.
“It’s a grind. This game wasn’t the nicest of games, but you get the three points however you win. We’ve not played to our potential, but we came away with three points, and we’re delighted.”