JOHN Carver is facing up to a defensive crisis in his first few days in charge at Newcastle United – after losing Steven Taylor for the rest of the season.
The Magpies could now be forced to make a move in this month’s transfer window, with caretaker manager Carver short of options at the back.
Taylor ruptured his Achilles tendon in his left foot in yesterday’s dramatic 3-3 Premier League draw against Burnley.
And the luckless defender – who scored Newcastle’s opening goal against the Clarets at St James’s Park – will miss the rest of the season.
Carver has just two specialist senior centre-halves available – Fabricio Coloccini and Mike Williamson – though versatile Paul Dummett can also play in central defence.
And Carver – who has taken temporary charge after Alan Pardew’s departure to Crystal Palace – knows the club can ill-afford to lose another defender to injury.
The Tynesiders, who visit Leicester City in a third-round FA Cup tie tomorrow, will almost certainly look to see if a defender can be brought in in this month’s transfer window, either on loan or a permanent deal.
Carver said: “It looks like Steven has ruptured his Achilles tendon.
“It’s not the one he did previously, so I think that’s probably him until the end of the season.
“I’ve known Steven since he was in the Centre of Excellence, and he’s a great lad.
“It was great for him to get the goal at a set-play – it was set up for him – but when he landed, you could tell from the way he fell it wasn’t good.
“Unfortunately, it’s not looking good at all.”
Pardew – who watched Palace’s goalless draw at Aston Villa yesterday – had wanted to sign another centre-half last summer.
Carver’s audition to be manager looked to be going swimmingly after a good start.
Newcastle dominated the first half as Burnley lost three men – skipper Jason Shackell, Dean Marney and substitute Kevin Long – to a combination of injury and illness, and led 2-1 at the break courtesy of strikes from Taylor and Jack Colback either side of Paul Dummett’s own goal.
However, comeback kings Burnley, who fought back from 2-0 down at Manchester City last Sunday to claim a point, responded spectacularly after the break and got their reward when Danny Ings headed them level.
But having also hit the woodwork on four occasions, they looked to be heading for defeat when Moussa Sissoko restored the Magpies’ lead 12 minutes from time, only for George Boyd to dash the home side’s hopes with four minutes remaining.
Carver was left to reflect upon what might have been after a classic game of two halves.
He said: “I am actually sitting here so disappointed because we were so good in the first half and so poor in the second half that we actually have got away with a point. We didn’t deserve that.
“I said to Sean (Dyche) at the end of the game, ‘We didn’t deserve that’, and I think he must have thought I was saying we should have won the game, but no, by no means. Burnley should have won the game.”
Meanwhile, Taylor – who has been beset by injuries in recent years – ruptured the Achilles in his right foot in early 2012, and spent seven months on the sidelines.
The 28-year-old left St James’s Park wearing a protective boot.
And Taylor’s Achilles will be fully assessed by the club’s medical staff this week.
Carver has fit-again Curtis Good, 21, available after the defender returned from nine-month absence this week, while 19-year-old Lubomir Satka is also highly rated at the club.
However, Satka – who has not yet had a spell on loan – lacks experience.
Defender Remie Streete, 20, is sidelined with a minor injury, but could return next week.
NEWCASTLE: Alnwick, Janmaat, S Taylor (Williamson 60), Coloccini, Dummett, Tiote, Colback, Perez, Sissoko, Gouffran (Haidara 71), Riviere (Armstrong 57). Subs not used: Santon, Anita, Cabella, Woodman. Booked: Janmaat, Williamson. Goals: S Taylor 15, Colback 26, Sissoko 78.
BURNLEY: Heaton, Trippier, Keane, Shackell (Long 17), Mee, Boyd, Jones, Marney (Kightly 32), Arfield, Ings, Barnes, Long (Reid 37). Subs not used: Wallace, Sordell, Jutkiewicz, Gilks. Booked: Ings, Trippier, Mee, Boyd. Goals: Dummett 19 og, Ings 66, Boyd 86.
Att: 51,761. Ref: Mike Dean (Wirral).