John Carver is convinced he will have Sir Bobby Robson standing alongside him on one side and Gary Speed on the other when he walks out at St James’ Park later today.
The 49-year-old will deputise as Newcastle United boss for the second time in his career to date as the Magpies take on Burnley in the Premier League with manager Alan Pardew bound for Crystal Palace.
Carver, a boyhood Newcastle fan who spent two years as a professional at his hometown club without making a senior appearance, has been asked to take charge of the next two games, along with first-team coach Steve Stone and football development manager Peter Beardsley.
However, the former Leeds United coach and caretaker manager is confident that he will have even more support in the shape of the late Sir Bobby Robson, under whom he worked during his reign on Tyneside.
Carver said: “For some reason, I started reading Sir Bobby’s autobiography last night. There was a message on the front of the book –‘Thanks for a fantastic, successful five years, it should have been a lot longer. Cheers, Sir Bobby’.
“When he gave me that book, he said to me, ‘You do realise how big this football club is, and if ever you get an opportunity, don’t be scared of it, enjoy it and take it with both hands’. So I am sitting here now and I’m going to take it with both hands.
“I’m a Catholic and I believe he will be looking down on me, I really do. For some reason that was why I had the inspiration to get the book and start reading it.
“He will be there with us. He will be in the technical area with us, let me tell you that, because I never stop thinking about him.
“Apart from my mum and dad, who I lost recently, there are two people I never stop thinking about – he [Robson] is one of them, and Gary Speed is the other. They are always with us. I think about them every game.
“They were good football people, and both of those figures understood what it meant to play and manage at this football club.”
Carver will be without suspended striker Papiss Cisse for Burnley’s visit, but has no fresh injury concerns.
For the Clarets, striker Sam Vokes could be in line to return.
Vokes recently came back after nine months out with a hamstring injury but was rested by Sean Dyche for Sunday’s 2-2 draw at Manchester City.
Matthew Gilks is expected to pass a late fitness test after a bout of flu.