Prior to Cambridge United’s Emirates FA Cup Third Round clash at St James’ Park, Head Coach Mark Bonne faced the local media…
On Saturday’s challenge:
“Saturday’s game is certainly above any challenge we are going to face in the league this year. It is a major experience to look forward to for all of us.
“There is going to be an incredible turnout, which is no real surprise, everyone knows how well supported Newcastle are and the fact that they are in a real positive mindset as a club after the takeover, and with the excitement of the transfer window, which hopefully will bring the best out of us and really inspire us to give a good performance.
“As we know, we will need to be at the very top of our game to be competitive against them, but that is something to look forward to. It is games like this that we have worked really hard for.
“As on many occasions going into games this season, we go into it as major underdogs. We know that is the case, but that tag, “confident underdog” that we have used a lot, is one that we will have to try and take to St James’ Park this weekend.”
“It is a really difficult one to call [what team will play], as has been the case a lot in recent weeks. It is hard to know where anyone is going with their team at the moment, and obviously when you talk about a different competition, that changes the mindset as well.
“We don't know how much the injuries or COVID-19 have taken their toll on their squad. We don't know whether they will see this as an opportunity to play their first team or they may not have a full squad available.
“Without getting too bogged down in that, two things we do have to prepare for, is that we may face the best version of Newcastle and their top team, as well as also preparing ourselves to give the best level we can with the squad we have got available.
“At the end of the day, they are a Premier League club with Premier League players, and on top of that they are trying to bring in players to push the bar even higher. We recognise the level and the difference in the level.”
“Apart from Sam [Smith], everyone who played against Portsmouth is fit and available for Saturday’s game, but 24 hours is a long time at the minute. We have got people back on the grass training today [Thursday] as we are travelling on Friday.
“Other than the fact that people have missed a few sessions - which made the performance probably even more remarkable against Portsmouth; what the players were able to give – and having to try and patch a few up, we are good to go.
“We are a little bit light on numbers, and we don’t have a huge squad at the moment, in the overall sense that you can have a 20-man squad in the in the FA Cup, and we certainly will not be naming that many on our squad.
“Despite that, we will do the best we can and we have got to give the best account of ourselves as we always do, and as I have said a number of times Saturday’s game is an experience to enjoy.
“Sam Smith will serve his one game suspension, so he misses this one, and then will be available for the Papa John's game on Tuesday.”