Yohan Cabaye

By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew believes Yohan Cabaye has emerged as a "stronger person" following a difficult period earlier in the season.

The midfielder barely missed a game last term as United finished fifth in the Barclays Premier League and then played three games for France in last summer's European Championships.

After Les Bleus' disappointing exit at the hands of Spain, he had a brief rest but was soon back in action and his early season form failed to hit the heights of last year's performances in black and white.

This week, the 27-year-old admitted that he had been suffering from "post competition depression" - something which he battled by reading books by Jonny Wilkinson and Rafael Nadal, who had both been through similar experiences.

Pardew admitted: "We - and particularly myself - had to help him through that stage. It was difficult for him.

"I think physically and mentally he hadn't coped with anything as strenuous as last year; to fight for the Champions League and become a regular in the French side, then the (European) Championships took its toll on him.

"But he's certainly come out the other side a stronger person. He's a fantastic character and he's one of our best players - if not our best player - and he's back to his very, very best. We're very lucky to have him."

Cabaye has scored four goals in his last seven Barclays Premier League appearances and, after recovering from the groin injury suffered against Anzhi Makhachkala earlier this month, is set to start against Manchester City on Saturday.

Pardew added: "In terms of players, you're an emotional person, it's an emotional game and of course you have emotions off the pitch that will affect you.

"As an adult you have to learn to deal with those. Cabaye will be a much stronger person for having come through that little period.

"It wasn't a deep depression, it was just a real fatigue in his system and therefore he had the rest and I think he's at this time as good a midfield player as there is in the Premiership."

Click here to buy a Newcastle United shirt with Cabaye's name and number on the back