Boss Has Selection Headache For Villa
Written by Newcastle Utd
Newcastle United FC
Alan Pardew has tough decisions to make when he names his team to take on Aston Villa, but it's a good problem to have after last season's injury nightmare
By Dan King - Newcastle United Digital Editor
With a near full squad to choose from for the first time in as long as he can remember, Alan Pardew has admitted that he has a real selection headache as Newcastle prepare to face Aston Villa on Saturday.
The likes of Fabricio Coloccini, Moussa Sissoko and Sammy Ameobi all returned from international duty without any ill-effects while the recent break has given Yohan Cabaye and Loic Remy the opportunity to work on their fitness at the training ground with both yet to start for United this term.
All of that is great news for the Magpies - but Pardew can only choose 11 players and unlike last season, when he had numerous injuries to contend with, he is spoilt for choice ahead of the trip to Villa Park.
Saturday's opponents have won once and lost twice in the league so far but their three games have been against Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool and Pardew believes they're a much better side than their current position of 13th would suggest.
"They've done extremely well and they've followed on from the back of last year when (Christian) Benteke kind of took them up a notch as a team," he said.
"He still carries the banner for them and he's a very important player. But the rest of the group have followed in behind and they're a tough nut to crack, so it'll be a tough game.
"We got a great result there last time so psychologically we go there in good shape.
"I think if you look at Aston Villa and ourselves in terms of the finances we have available, we're similar clubs and therefore it's a big game for us.
"It's a game that can determine the position in the league at the end of the season so therefore it's important we get a result."
Pardew has a particular dilemma in central midfield, with Vurnon Anita outstanding of late but two key players pushing for a start at Villa Park.
"I thought the French national manager did a good turn for us in not picking Yohan because we've been able to put some really good work into him while he's been here," Pardew explained.
"That was important because I don't think he was ready for international football this time around. But they got great results and we've got great result with him because he's in good shape.
"We have Cheick Tiote fit as well - he played for the Ivory Coast which was good news for everybody - so that's a really competitive area for this team. For the first time, I would say, for a good 14 months I have real competition in almost every area because everybody happens to be fit."
That includes Remy, who arrived from Queens Park Rangers with a calf injury but showed his qualities on his debut as a second half substitute against Fulham last time out.
"I think he's got enough in the tank to be considered for a start," said Pardew. "Whether he can produce the best performance he can possibly do in that first game, I doubt, but at some stage he needs to be pitched in.
"The one thing I would say is he's impressed in training - not just the manager but the players and the coaching staff, and with his manner around the place.
"He's been a real gentleman and as far as I'm concerned the signs for success are there.
"Since Demba (Ba) left, we've lacked a player that has increased our goal threat. With all due respect to the players that we have, we needed somebody to really put the other team on the back foot and I think Remy does that.
"We've got Papiss (Cisse), Shola (Ameobi) and Gouff (Yoan Gouffran) to complement that and hopefully they all stay fit."