NEWCASTLE United head coach John Carver has given his players a long weekend off – ahead of a long few months.
Carver’s players – without a game this weekend because of their early FA Cup exit – will start preparations for next Saturday teatime’s game at Premier League champions Manchester City on Monday.
In the meantime, the team, held to a 1-1 draw by Alan Pardew’s Crystal Palace on Wednesday, will rest and recuperate.
Carver feels his squad, unbeaten since he was appointed as head coach for the rest of the season, need a breather after a difficult few weeks on and off the pitch.
And the 50-year-old believes the point the Tynesiders took home from Selhurst Park – where Papiss Cisse’s strike was cancelled out by a goal from Fraizer Campbell – could prove to be a “valuable” one.
“Every point you get in the Premiership is a difficult point, and it’s a valuable point,” said Carver.
“It’s now six games, two defeats, one win and three draws.
“Now, it’s not fantastic, but we could be standing here now with nine points from the last three games.
“We conceded a late goal at the weekend (against Stoke), and we conceded that goal when we were under pressure at a difficult venue.
“But we’re unbeaten now, so I’ll take that.
“It’s another game unbeaten. It’s a win and three draws, with two defeats. That’s not bad in this league, because we know how difficult it is to get a point, never mind three points.”
Carver felt the Selhurst Park pitch played a part against Palace, with the “lively” surface not conducive to a passing game.
“Coming away, we said before the game we were up against a physical side, a big, strong side,” said Carver, whose side are without a game this weekend because of the club’s early FA Cup exit.
“The pitch was quite lively – the guys said that when they came in before the start of the game after the warm-up.
“We knew the pitch was quite lively, so it wasn’t going to be conducive to good play, getting it down and passing.
“We knew it was going to be a little bit of a battle. It was something that I had not actually seen in this team, but they’ve actually done it tonight.
“They dug in there, actually rolled their sleeves up and competed.”
Meanwhile, defender Paul Dummett is having the knee injury he suffered against Palace assessed by the Magpies’ medical team.
Carver said: “Dummy got a crack on his kneecap, but that was it. Nobody else had any issues.”