Belfast Telegraph

Pardew backs Yanga-Mbiwa to prosper

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew is backing Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa to plug the yawning chasm left by Fabricio Coloccini in Saturday's Barclays Premier League clash with in-form Liverpool.

The 24-year-old Frenchman is set to return to the starting line-up after Pardew confirmed Argentinian Coloccini returned from international duty with a groin injury which will keep him out of the game at St James' Park.

Yanga-Mbiwa missed the 2-1 victory at Cardiff last time out after being hauled off at half-time in the Magpies' 3-2 defeat at Everton - the scoreline was 3-0 at the time - five days earlier with Romelu Lukaku having led him on a merry dance alongside his South American sidekick.

The prospect of attempting to shackle Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge may be daunting under the circumstances, but with Steven Taylor unlikely to have shaken off a hamstring injury in time, the former Montpellier defender and Mike Williamson seem certain to be the men in the firing line.

Asked about Yanga-Mbiwa's readiness for the task, Pardew said: "The most important thing is his response on the pitch, but his response in training has been very good.

"Sometimes you need to come out to have a little breather. You could perhaps say his chance has come early, with Colo's injury, to come back in, so it will be interesting, his performance.

"I hope - I really hope because he's a terrific person - that he puts in great display on Saturday."

Liverpool's visit to St James' will rekindle memories of another bad day for Yanga-Mbiwa in his short career on Tyneside, although he will not be alone in that respect.

He was in the starting line-up for the corresponding fixture last season on April 27 when, a fortnight after the Magpies had lost 3-0 to arch-rivals Sunderland on their own pitch, they were thrashed 6-0 by the Merseyside club despite Suarez's absence through suspension.

Psychological scars may have been left by that gruesome experience, but Pardew insists the discussions he has held with the player since his premature exit from the game at Goodison Park have been designed to prepare him for his return.

He said: "You have to sit down with them and make it clear why they come out of the team, and give them a solution to get back into the team.

"I like to think I have done that for him and I'd like to think he can reward me with a performance."

Coloccini missed last season's debacle through injury, and Pardew will hope this absence this time around is not extended.

He said: "How long he misses, we will have to wait and see, so that was disappointing. He has a groin injury, so we will have to see how it repairs itself over the next few days.

"But there's no reason that we can't cope with Colo's absence."

Newcastle will also be without Coloccini's compatriot Jonas Gutierrez, who has been allowed to return to Argentina for personal reasons, while Taylor is close to a return, but perhaps not close enough.

But whatever team Pardew does send out, he is expecting a significant improvement on what happened in April.

He said: "It's a game you don't ever want, but it happens sometimes in a season.

"It's probably the heaviest defeat I have had as a manager and you have to make sure that it doesn't happen again and try to build yourselves up, which we did after that, and takes some sort of positive out of it, that it won't happen again.

"Psychologically, it's a completely different place to where we were. We were off the back of a defeat to Sunderland.

"But we are in a much better place now and I think we will give a much better account of ourselves. I certainly hope so."


From Belfast Telegraph