AHEAD of a “massive season” for Newcastle, James Perch hopes he has proved his worth to manager Alan Pardew.
You would have received long odds on Perch being seen as part of the first-team squad some 12 months ago, but it is a testament to his performances last season that he is now seen as a key part of Pardew’s plans.
Newcastle knocked back an offer for him in January but he says that there were no such worries about his future this close season. He said: “To be honest, I didn’t think about what was going to happen this year regarding my future.
“I came in for the back end of the season, played a few more games than I did the season before, I enjoyed it and I think I planted a seed in the back of the manager’s head about what I can do.
“I got the impression that he’d like to keep me here and keep me as a player who he can count on when he needs to.” Perch’s versatility and ability to fill in both at centre-back and central midfield makes him a useful addition to a squad that will battle on four fronts next season.
During the autumn and winter United face the prospect of potentially playing games on Thursday and Sunday for weeks on end - and if they make progress in the Carling Cup that would also increase the fixture programme. Perch knows that it may mean more opportunities for capable understudies like himself.
“It’s massive,” he said. “The amount of extra games we’ll have – being in Europe, and we’d like to go on a decent cup run – will put a strain on the team so having a big squad is a must, really.”
“Playing the positions I can play gives me a bigger opportunity to play on the weekend but to be honest, I’m not even thinking about the season coming up, I’m thinking about coming through pre-season fit and healthy, because I know if you miss pre-season it can affect the season thereafter.”