ALAN Pardew believes his new-look Newcastle United are going into every Premier League game with the belief they can win.
The United boss leads his team into battle in Birmingham today against an Aston Villa side that Pardew acknowledges are competing in the ‘league within a league’ behind the Champions League heavyweights.
Newcastle had a habit of slipping up in similar circumstances last season, but Pardew believes that with a younger, fresher look about his side they will go into this game – and every other one – with a belief that they can emerge victorious.
“What is important is that every Premier League team we play against, we go in there with the belief we can win with the players we have got,” he said.
“The game plan will be slightly different against Villa because different players give you different types of problems, but we are going there thinking we can win.
“That is always the most important thing, regardless of what “division” they are in in the Premier League.
“I do not really think about them too much and where they are in the league, even though we’re probably competing against teams like Aston Villa to a certain extent.”
United’s impressive start to the season will face a serious examination at Villa Park, where they were disappointing when confronted with a chance to ‘kick on’ towards a Europa League challenge last season. Pardew feels the DNA of the squad has changed, which could be key.
While much has been made of the failure to land a second striker during the January window, United do look to have more strength in depth in some important areas.
And Pardew is adamant that increased competition for places – and a plethora of senior men on the bench for matches so far this campaign – is a major reason why the team has hit the ground running this term. After a successful midweek run-out for the reserves, he will welcome Dan Gosling back into the frame for both today’s trip to Villa and the midweek Carling Cup engagement with Nottingham Forest.
“We’re in good shape at the moment, there’s a lot of competition. Someone like Dan will feature over the next three games,” he said.
“He has to try to nail down a position in this team because he’s been out for a long time.
“He’s had to be patient and you know there are a lot of players who – when they have an injury – it’s easy to forget about. We’ve tried to concentrate on Dan and make sure that his rehabilitation has been sound.
“I think it has been and he’s ready now to push on.”
United have sent Santon for treatment over the weekend with the hope that he will be available before the end of October.
Initial fears of a long lay-off seem to have been calmed, but Pardew suggested on Thursday that it would be a “minimum” of four weeks on the sidelines for the former Inter Milan man. Whether it ends up being quite as long as that now appears open to question – although United’s brief statement updating the situation did emphasise that there was no link to a previous injury suffered on international duty with the Italy Under-21 side.
The left-back will miss Tuesday’s trip to Nottingham Forest in the Carling Cup.
“Newcastle United can confirm that Davide Santon sustained an injury to his right knee during training (on Thursday) which will keep him out of Saturday’s match against Aston Villa,” a club statement read. “The player had a scan on Thursday afternoon, will undergo treatment over the weekend and will be reviewed by a specialist early next week.
“Davide was injury-free when he completed his pre-signing medical e xamination and scans. The injury he sustained on Thursday is not connected to his previous injuries.”
The club have released Italian striker Fabio Zamblera by mutual consent and let fellow front man Ryan Donaldson to go to Tranmere on a month’s loan.