Tim Krul has denied Newcastle United are over-reliant on Loic Remy but admits they need to cope better without their key players.
The absence of on-loan France striker Remy was keenly felt at the weekend as the Magpies fell to a 1-0 defeat at bottom-placed Fulham.
The club are yet to score a goal in any of the six Premier League games Remy has missed through injury and suspension this season.
The 27-year-old is Newcastle’s top-scorer with 13 goals this season. Of the other centre-forwards, only Papiss Cisse has scored in the league this season. One of his two goals was a penalty.
Despite that, Krul claims the club are not over-reliant on Remy.
“No, but he’s a big player,” the Dutch goalkeeper commented when asked. “He’s a world-class striker and it’s the same for every team.
“If you’re missing a world-class striker like Loic it’s going to hurt you and on Saturday missing (Mathieu) Debuchy also did. I’m not saying we don’t have the quality to replace them but you do miss that extra bit of quality.”
Newcastle’s other centre-forward options are Luuk de Jong, Shola Ameobi and Adam Armstrong. De Jong joined on loan from Borussia Moenchengladbach in late January, and is still to score a goal this season.
Teenager Armstrong has only played for four minutes after coming off the bench at Craven Cottage to make his first-team debut. Ameobi’s only goal this season came at League Two Morecambe in the League Cup.
Manager Alan Pardew made it clear in January he needed to reinforce his striking options, but de Jong was the only player forthcoming.
Having only been a bit-part player in this season’s Bundesliga, the striker has looked understandably rusty and although he was prolific in his homeland, his failure in Germany means he is unproven in the top leagues.
The importance of Remy to the side is particularly worrying because he is on a season-long loan from Queens Park Rangers, and the signs are not promising that the arrangement will be made permanent. Remy’s form has alerted rival clubs who can offer Champions League football, a stage his talents are worthy of. It is hard to see how Newcastle will compete.
Even if Armstrong does fulfil the potential Newcastle see in him, he will only mitigate, rather than solve their problems at the sharp end of the field. Ameobi is out of contract at the end of the season and judging by his latest comments it is unlikely the long-serving forward will sign another.
“It’s frustrating for me, but I just have to bide my time,” the 32-year-old said of his lack of first-team football this season.
“I’ve loved my time in Newcastle, no more so than when I’m playing.
“I just want to help the team. When that doesn’t happen, it’s frustrating.
“I know the manager picks a team he thinks can win.
“We have to respect that as a player, but it doesn’t stop it being frustrating.
“Hopefully, I can help us in these last nine games and get us as high as we can.”
Ameobi was expected to leave the club last summer but, perhaps because of the failure again to sign a permanent replacement, he has stayed with the club for a 14th season.
Right-back Debuchy – another French international – also missed the trip to West London through injury.
“We’ve had key players out at different times and it shows how much of an impact missing those players makes,” said Krul. “(Cheick) Tiote, (Fabricio) Coloccini, Debuchy, (Yoan) Gouffran. They’re massive players for us and unfortunately we haven’t coped well without them.”
Having lost to a relegation-threatened side last week, Newcastle face another on Saturday in Crystal Palace. The Eagles are one place above the relegation zone, three points above Sunderland, who have two games in hand.
Despite the morale-damaging defeat in Fulham, Krul is not worried by the prospect of facing Tony Pulis’ side.
“At home it will be different,” he promised. “It didn’t go for us last week but at St James’ Park hopefully it will.”
Palace have won just twice away from home in this season’s Premier League.