Will Woody face Chelsea?

Last updated : 24 February 2003 By Martyn Elliott

Sir Bobby needs to be convinced that Woody is 100 per cent fit for the clash and also of the wisdom of breaking up the Titus Bramble-Andy O’Brien partnership that has played so well in recent weeks.

After the win at Leeds Craig Bellamy said this about the central defensive duo: "They were magnificent, they were up against two top players in Smith and Kewell but Titus and Andy were outstanding.

"It’s never been fair just to criticise the defence, it’s about how we defend as a team. But 11 clean sheets that’s some going."

And Sir Bobby told The Journal: "I'm looking forward to putting him in the side.

"But if I put him in on Saturday then I have to be sure he's ready because our public will be very expectant and Jonathan will want to be at his best.

"Chelsea aren't a bad side so I will only consider him if he's in a position where he can do himself justice. He has to be mentally and physically right because he doesn't want to start his Newcastle career with a disaster.

"When he does play, we have to be sure that he has everything under control."

So maybe the selection isn’t as cut and dried as everyone thinks, particularly as the present incumbents have another chance to impress against Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday.

But I’d be very surprised if Woody isn’t partnering Bramble against the Blues on Saturday lunchtime.