Alan Pardew has admitted the team he fielded during Newcastle's FA Cup tie against Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday was the weakest sent out during his time on Tyneside.
Ravaged by injuries, the Magpies went down 2-0 at the Amex Stadium, with youngsters including Paul Dummett, James Tavernier, Mehdi Abeid and forgotten man Nile Ranger all receiving time on the pitch.
"You have to understand this is a competition that I love, and I want to put my best team out," Pardew told the Shields Gazette. "Every time the cup fixture comes out, we're depleted.
"We were depleted at Stevenage, depleted at Brighton last year, and even more depleted this year. That is the weakest team I've had to pick from in terms of player experience and top-quality players.
"We have to be honest enough and say that side should not have been representing us in the third round of the FA Cup. But that's where we were.
"We had no (Fabricio) Coloccini and no Papiss (Demba Cisse) due to strains. I couldn't risk them. The only one that I kept out of my side was (Sylvain) Marveaux. We wanted to get to 60 or 70 minutes and create a moment when he will be fresh. He will create a moment like he almost did at the end.
"The younger players gave everything they could, but they should be in our development team, not our first team."
The 51-year-old also confirmed his intention to work non-stop to strengthen his depleted squad, and build some much needed momentum.
"Now we're working around the clock to get players in and players back because there's no doubt about it, the form we're in, the momentum we've got, we're fighting to stay in the Premier League. I make no bones about saying that," he told the Northern Echo. "We just haven't really had any momentum with players or the team. I've almost had to change the team every week through injury and not being able to have my better players on the pitch.
"You look at that Everton game [where Newcastle lost 2-1], we were probably one quality player away from getting a draw or may be winning it. We know we're not far away but that team, we really should be a lot stronger than that in the third round of the FA Cup."
Meanwhile the club have been linked with a host of players already this month, with the latest reports in France linking the club to Bastia's Florian Thauvin. The 19-year-old creative midfielder, who has represented France at Under-20 level has played eight times in Ligue 1 for Les Bleus this season, scoring two goals.
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