Ciaran Clark has confessed that Newcastle simply ‘weren’t up for it’ on Saturday as they fell to a dreadful 3-0 defeat at Brighton.
Steve Bruce’s side recorded a mere three shots (one on target) over the course of 90 minutes as they were dealt a punishing beating in the relegation six-pointer (BBC Sport).
The result saw Brighton move six points clear of the drop zone, while Fulham remain within a win of leapfrogging Newcastle.
Clark, speaking ahead of Ireland’s World Cup qualifiers, with his nation missing out on Euro 2020 and therefore not threatening the EM odds, admitted that Newcastle’s application belied the magnitude of the fixture, when speaking to Press Association [via Chronicle Live].
“On Saturday night, we weren’t up for it as a group of players,” he said. “For some reason, it didn’t work for us.
“That was the most disappointing thing, the way we were playing the weeks beforehand, we didn’t take into the game, such a big game as well.”
Break ‘comes at good time’ as Wilson & Saint-Maximin recover
However, Clark did find reason for optimism ahead of a run-in which will see Newcastle face five of the top seven.
Top scorer Callum Wilson is expected to return after the international break – the Englishman’s 10 goals are twice that of his nearest challenger in the Toon ranks. Allan Saint-Maximin, who ranks fourth in the squad for goal involvements with two goals and three assists, is also set to be back.
That double boost will be marred by the injury Isacc Hayden picked up at the Amex Stadium, one which could sideline him for the remainder of the campaign, according to The Athletic‘s Chris Waugh.
“The international break has probably come at a good time for us now,” Clark told the press. “We’ve got time to get some injured players back.
“Hopefully, we can see out remaining games with a fully-fit squad, probably bar Isaac Hayden, who picked up a nasty injury.”
Transfer Tavern verdict
Clark’s confession is undoubtedly damning for both the players and the manager, but perhaps it won’t come as a surprise for Newcastle fans after what they witnessed.
Can their returnees save them? Maybe, but no amount of Wilson heroics could compensate for failings in attitude.
Newcastle’s next Premier League match is at home to Tottenham Hotspur and fans will be hoping that the Easter break does them some good.
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