DANNY Simpson is battling to keep his ever-present tag for Newcastle United tonight – and help the club put the case for the defence, writes Miles Starforth.
Simpson is a doubt for tonight’s Premier League trip to Chelsea with a knock suffered in the 4-0 weekend defeat at Wigan.
Up to that game, Alan Pardew’s side had only conceded one goal in a six-game winning streak.
Simpson is looking for United to keep it tight at Stamford Bridge, and again give the likes of Papiss Demba Cisse, Demba Ba and Hatem Ben Arfa the chances to win the game at the other end of the pitch.
“It hurts to concede four goals – we’d had five clean sheets in six games,” Simpson said.
“To concede like we did was disappointing – it does hurt.
“We’d been giving the likes of Hatem, Demba and Papiss a good platform. It wasn’t meant to be, but we’ll look at DVDs and try and take something out of it.”
However, they’re up against a buoyant Chelsea team, and in-form Fernando Torres.
Torres – who has looked a shadow of his former self for much of his time at Stamford Bridge – netted a hat-trick in Sunday’s 6-1 win over QPR, the feat capping a remarkable week for the club, which reached the Champions League final at the expense of Barcelona.
The Wigan result meant Newcastle dropped out of the Premier League’s top four, with Tottenham ahead of them on goal difference.
However, United were down when they left the DW Stadium, but they’re not yet out, and Pardew’s team still have a chance of qualifying for the Champions League.
The sooner they get the Wigan result out of their systems, the better, according to Simpson.
“We’ve got to put this behind us,” added Simpson. “The fans know we’ve still got a great opportunity to finish high.
“What a game to go into to try and get our season going again.
“I think (Chelsea) still recognise it’s a massive game – they’ll want to take some momentum into the FA Cup and Champions League.
“It’ll be a tough game, but we’ll be looking to bounce back and maybe get this game out of our systems by performing well.
“The manager, players and staff are still focused. We’ll regroup, look at stuff and stick together.
“We’ll have a chat. We’ll stick together, and take positives from the second half, when we had some good chances.
“We go again against Chelsea, and as I say, what a game in which to put things right.”
Should Simpson fail to prove his fitness, James Perch or Ryan Taylor are the main contenders to play at right-back.