Newcastle star Luque to escape from car crash
Newcastle striker Albert Luque will start the UEFA Cup clash with Eintracht Frankfurt in Germany tomorrow night after escaping unhurt from a road accident.
The 28-year-old Spaniard, currently being linked with a January move to Villarreal, missed the official flight this morning after his Porsche Carrera was in collision with a lorry on the way to Newcastle International Airport.
Luque, who was out of the car making a phone call when the accident happened, was not injured, but had to take a later flight to Frankfurt and was due to link up with his team-mates once again at around 7pm local time.
However, manager Glenn Roeder, who has seen his squad reduced to just 11 senior outfield players, will have no qualms about pushing ahead with his plan to start with the £9.5million signing.
Roeder said: 'He is playing. He has not picked up an injury or anything.
'He is an experienced enough person not to allow something like this to affect him. He will be out there playing.
'He was kept back by the police for interviews, as well as the lorry driver who crashed into Albert's vehicle.
'Thankfully, he was out of the vehicle at the time at the side of the road making a mobile phone call because he had had a puncture.'
Luque has endured a miserable 18 months at St James' Park, starting only 12 games since his big money move from Deportivo la Coruna two summers ago.
He has repeatedly spoken of his intention to leave the club if he does not get more opportunities, although he has rarely shown the form for which then manager Graeme Souness invested so heavily.
However, it was his goal in Palermo which claimed one of three victories to date in Group H, and he was also in the side which secured qualification for the knockout stage with a 2-1 win over Celta Vigo last week.
Now Roeder is hoping for more from Luque in a game in which he may be forced to field several untried youngsters.
The manager said: 'Every time a player goes out to play in any game of football, he has an opportunity to make a statement about the ability he has, and surely wants to be part of a winning team by playing to the maximum of his ability.
'Albert has a very good pedigree in Spain. He has found it difficult at times to adjust to the Premiership, but we have seen signs recently that that is improving.'
A point at the Commerzbank Arena will be enough to ensure Newcastle top spot in the group regardless of what happens to Fenerbahce - the only side that can catch them - against Celta in Spain.
But with James Milner and Celestine Babayaro due to undergo late fitness checks and Kieron Dyer and Scott Parker having joined the likes of Michael Owen, Shola Ameobi, Damien Duff, Craig Moore, Stephen Carr, Olivier Bernard and Tim Krul on the injury list, Roeder could be forced to blood some of his youngsters.
He said: 'We have 10 or 11 what I would call senior players missing from the squad, and seven of those who are injured would be certain starters had they been fit.
'But I have always said that gives someone else an opportunity and tomorrow, maybe two or three of the kids will get an opportunity they never thought they would get so early.'
Keeper Fraser Forster, defenders Paul Huntington and David Edgar, midfielders Matty Pattison, James Troisi and Kris Gate and striker Andy Carroll are all included in the squad.
Eintracht go into the game sitting 11th in the Bundesliga and desperate for a victory after taking just one point from their two Group H games to date.