JOHN Carver has insisted that he IS up for the FA Cup at Newcastle United – and WILL field his strongest side against Leicester City.
Carver has been put in charge of team affairs in the wake of Alan Pardew’s departure for Crystal Palace.
The club had a dismal record in the FA Cup under Pardew.
Carver watched the first of United’s cup defeats under Pardew – a 3-1 loss at Stevenage – on holiday in Tenerife.
Within weeks, he had returned to Newcastle as Pardew’s No2.
And the 49-year-old is desperate to guide the team to a win over Leicester at the King Power Stadium this afternoon.
“Four years ago I was in Tenerife watching the game against Stevenage, and let me tell you I was really disappointed,” said Carver.
“Listen, there’s been an awful lot made about cup runs, so let me say this.
“Every game I go into I want to win, so I’ll put the best team on the pitch that I possibly can to win the game.
“I know exactly how much it means to the fans to have a cup run, because I’m one of them. I have been to a cup final and a semi-final, and I’ll never forget that reception.
“So I know exactly what it means. I have actually been in the stands when we lost to Arsenal (in the 1998 FA Cup final), so I know what is it like and how important it is.
“So to get back there is one of the most important things in my eyes.”
Carver, however, will make changes, with United having played Burnley on New Year’s Day, when defender Steven Taylor suffered a season-ending injury.
“I know how important it is, and I’ve got to get the team ready for it,” said Carver. “I need to see what we have available, and I’ll pick my strongest available side.
“But if I have three or four players who are carrying things, then that’s obviously an issue.
“We have already lost (Papiss Demba) Cisse to the African Cup of Nations and we are going to lose Cheik Tiote and (Mehdi) Abeid soon.
“So that’s three players we have lost, and with the injury list we have got, we have to deal with it.”
Asked if he had been told that the cup was not a priority for the club, Carver added: “I’ve not been told that. I have got to be honest, but we might not have any options when we see who is available.”
Meanwhile, Leicester manager Nigel Pearson has confirmed he will make a number of changes given the relegation-threatened club’s Premier League predicament.
Pearson said: “I have no qualms in saying the Premier League’s the most important thing, but I think it would be great to get another win.”
- Miles Starforth