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Rewind to Boxing Day 1963

Barclays Premier League
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By ESPN Staff

Kinnear sees players' confidence growing

Newcastle interim manager Joe Kinnear has experienced a huge lift in morale since he was drafted into the crisis-torn club.

The 61-year-old former Wimbledon boss was brought to St James' Park last month after a succession of other candidates had rejected the role of succeeding Kevin Keegan, who resigned as manager last month.

Kinnear was appointed until the end of October as club owner Mike Ashley attempts to sell the club after coming under intense pressure following Keegan's exit.

His reign could yet extend further with Keith Harris, chairman of investment bank Seymour Pierce, which has been handed the task of finding a buyer, hinting last week that the current economic climate is proving a complicating factor.

However, while work continues behind the scenes, Kinnear is concentrating solely on the task of dragging the club out of the Barclays Premier League's bottom three, at the same time attempting to re-establish his own credentials in the game.

The 2-2 draw at Everton in his first game in charge ended a run of five consecutive defeats, and he is already feeling the positive repercussions of that.

Kinnear said: "The levels of self-confidence when I arrived were as low as I have seen. There were also low concentration levels. We have started to get the belief back in our ability and get more confidence.

"Above all, we have had a quick change of attitude at the club amongst the players. Everybody has been working hard, and to see the reaction has been great.''

Kinnear's efforts to steady the ship, and those of caretaker Chris Hughton before him, have been hampered a crippling injury list as well as suspensions for Danny Guthrie and Joey Barton.

Guthrie was back at Goodison Park and Barton will be available for the derby trip to Sunderland on October 25.

With Habib Beye, Jonas Gutierrez, Ignacio Gonzalez and Andy Carroll all on the comeback trail, things are starting to look a little brighter despite less promising prognoses for Mark Viduka, Obafemi Martins and Alan Smith.

Eight of Kinnear's players joined up with their respective countries during the current international break, and that was an indication for him of the strength of the squad he has inherited.

He said: "I think that this international break has also highlighted what amazing strength this squad has.

"There have been eight players away on international duty - and it could have been more if the likes of Jonas Gutierrez and Habib Beye weren't injured.''

That said, there is little doubt that the current Newcastle squad is short of both numbers and quality, and that is a situation either Ashley, if he remains at the helm, or his successor, will have to address when the winter transfer window opens in January.

Vice-president (player recruitment) Tony Jimenez left the club last week and their future recruitment policy remains a topic of intense debate.

With the summer transfer window long closed, Kinnear has been scouring UEFA's list of out-of-contract players for anyone who might be able to help.

However, after deciding against bringing former Magpie Stephen Carr back to the club, he is happy to bide his time.

Kinnear said: "I have had a long look at UEFA's list of players who are out of contract and available to join other clubs. It is actually a massive list.

"It is full of players who have only played two games for their clubs, and they are not the sort of players I want for Newcastle United.

"Those type of players are not going to improve us and, to tell the truth. I already have better players here, even those who are on the fringe of the first team.'

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