NEWCASTLE United captain Kevin Nolan says no player is bigger than any club, and recent absences from Alan Pardew’s side have proved it.
The Magpies have been without leading scorer Andy Carroll for the past four games because of a thigh problem, while Cheik Tiote’s sidelined through suspension.
However, Pardew’s men are unbeaten in three Premier League games, and those who have deputised for the hugely influential Carroll and Tiote have proved more than able.
Pardew will again be without the pair for tomorrow’s home game against Tottenham Hotspur along with defender Steven Taylor, sidelined with a hamstring problem. Danny Guthrie will deputise for Tiote, while Shola Ameobi and Leon Best are expected to start up front in the absence of Carroll.
“When we lost Andy, everyone was saying that’s it, we’re going to be in a relegation battle,” Nolan said. “And when we lost Cheik through the week it was all doom and gloom.
“We’ve got a squad which is capable of holding our own in this league. We’ve got to make sure we get together, and do that.
“Andy and Cheik will be the first to say that no one individual’s bigger than this team or club.
“We’re happy with what we’ve done without Andy, but we want him back as soon as possible.
“He’s one of the best players in this league, but we’ve got to make sure we get him right before he comes back, because we can’t afford to lose him longer term.
“He’s just got to keep doing what he’s doing. Who knows? If we do well against Tottenham, he might not get back in!”
Nolan was himself suspended for December’s 2-0 defeat at White Hart Lane, when Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale’s quality on the flanks eventually told in a tight game.
“I wasn’t there, I was suspended for that one, but I watched the highlights,” added the 28-year-old.
“It was one of those games, after Boxing Day, where the players looked jaded. They’re doing really well, and we’re there or thereabouts for a Champions League place, but we fancy ourselves against anyone at St James’s Park.
“Hopefully, we’ll get a bit of luck like Sunderland did (last Sunday).”
When Harry Redknapp took over Tottenham the season before last, they were struggling near the foot of the Premier League table along with Newcastle.
However, the club’s now in the Champions League knockout stages, and Nolan is optimistic, in time, United can again be challenging in Europe, having made steady progress this season after last year’s promotion.
“We want to get safe as quickly as possible. The targets have never changed – we want to make sure we’re in the league next season.
“We’ve got to keep building on this squad, and getting better and better, and get the club back where it belongs for the fans.
“And by that I meant the top half or top eight, and Europe.
“It’s going to be the right players coming in, but I think we’re going about it the right way.”