Kieran Trippier is refusing to give up on Newcastle’s Champions League dream after a bruising night in Dortmund left them with a mountain to climb.
The Magpies, playing in the competition for the first time in 20 years, sat proudly at the top of Group F on October 4 after a thumping 4-1 victory over Paris St Germain.
A little more than a month on, back-to-back defeats a the hands of Borussia Dortmund – the second of them a 2-0 reverse at the Signal Iduna Stadium on Tuesday evening – left them at the bottom of the pile with just two games to play, although former Tottenham full-back Trippier knows from personal experience how quickly things can change.
The 33-year-old, who swiftly turned his attention to Saturday’s Premier League trip to Bournemouth, said: “When I was at Tottenham, we had Barcelona and Inter Milan in our group and everyone said it was done, but never say never.
“We got to the final that year, so it is a never-say-die attitude from us. We can’t control what happens, we just have to focus on Bournemouth and forget this.”
Newcastle’s current haul of four points from four games is equal to what Trippier’s Spurs had managed by the same point in 2018-19, when defeats by Inter and Barcelona were followed by a draw at PSV Eindhoven and then a 2-1 home win over the Dutch outfit.
They eventually secured second place in Group B by beating the Italians in north London and then drawing at the Nou Camp, where substitute Lucas Moura’s late equaliser ensured they edged out the Serie A giants before going on to reach the final in Madrid, where they lost 2-0 to Liverpool.
Five years on, Trippier and his current team-mates will travel to Paris later this month ahead of AC Milan’s December visit to St James’ Park, knowing they may need to win both games to make it out of the group and their chances of doing so could depend largely on how far their injury problems have abated.
Head coach Eddie Howe was without Dan Burn, Sven Botman, Alexander Isak, Harvey Barnes, Jacob Murphy, Matt Targett, Elliot Anderson and Javier Manquillo, as well as the suspended Sandro Tonali, in Germany and returned with Callum Wilson nursing a tight hamstring.
He will hope key defender Botman and striker Isak at least can play a part in the remaining group games, although Trippier was in no mood to use the selection crisis as an excuse.
He said: “Everybody has to stand up. There are always going to be injuries in football.
“The good thing about us is that as a team and a manager, we don’t make excuses. Everybody feels valued in this team and we have a strong bond as a team.
“The reality is we are missing a lot of key players. But you look at Manchester United away and Arsenal at home and we’ve got good results, so there are no excuses from us. Whatever team the manager picks, we give everything.”
Newcastle headed back to Tyneside wondering what might have been after passing up opportunities to cancel out Niclas Fullkrug’s opener when Lewis Hall’s driven cross from a short corner move evaded all his team-mates and Joelinton sent a close-range header wide, and they were made to pay when Julian Brandt cemented the win late on.
Trippier said: “These are the fine margins. We had a great chance from the set-piece routine – on another day it is a tap in, Joelinton’s header.
“There was nothing in the game, but at this level, it is about being clinical.”