As its name suggests, the international break is a time for Premier League managers to pause, gather their thoughts and recharge before the slog of top-flight action returns.
Unfortunately for Steve McClaren, even when his Newcastle side aren’t playing football, he loses.
Tim Krul’s season-ending knee injury, suffered playing for the Netherlands on Saturday, means the beleaguered Magpies manager will be without one of his most reliable performers.
With the club’s fight against relegation looking increasingly desperate, the timing of the goalkeeper’s sad news couldn’t be worse.
His troops return to St James’ Park facing a five-point deficit at the foot of the Premier League table and a run of six games that provide the rope to drag themselves from danger.
Norwich, Sunderland, Stoke, Bournemouth, Leicester and Crystal Palace would all be viewed as point-taking opportunities in normal circumstances, even with the latter two enjoying an early-season boon.
However, with Krul now absent from those encounters, confidence isn’t likely to be as high. The Dutchman, while not performing at his best this term, still ranks tied-third in the top-flight for saves made.
The 27-year-old is quite capable of earning the side points through his shot-stopping, the 1-0 win away at Tottenham in 2013/14 being a famous example, but Newcastle will now rely on Rob Elliot to provide those moments of inspiration.
Republic of Ireland’s fourth-choice stopper has made just 16 league appearances since joining Newcastle from Charlton. 10 of those came at the end of the 2012/13 campaign, in which he kept just one clean sheet.
With wins vital to both the team’s survival ambitions and McClaren’s job security, the 2/1 about the former England boss becoming the next Premier League manager to leave his post looks ripe for the taking.
Now that the trigger has been pulled on the first two casualties of the campaign, there is little to stop Mike Ashley following suit should the side lose their next few games, especially if the Sports Direct honcho believes he has a chance of snapping up a now out-of-work Brendan Rodgers.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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