JAMES Perch knows that he may not ever be guaranteed regular first-team football at Newcastle United, but he is desperate to stay and play a part in the club’s bright future.
Perch has been one of United’s most consistent performers as they have strung together a run of five successive wins, but faces a fight to stay in the side as Cheick Tiote looks set to return to the fray for Saturday’s visit of Stoke.
Perch had been filling in for the combative midfielder over Easter after a stint at centre-back, where Fabricio Coloccini’s return looks set to squeeze him out of defensive duties.
Alan Pardew has always been fair with players who have performed well but if he opts for experience and the influence of Tiote for the Stoke clash, Perch may be back on the bench.
That would not be ideal, but Perch is a team man and will accept his fate. And he says that he will not sulk or look to move on, even if his fine form has not gone unnoticed among Premier League rivals.
Perch told The Journal that he fully buys into the ‘all-for-one’ philosophy at St James’ Park – and that means he is eager to play whatever part Pardew assigns for him.
“Whether I’m in the side or not in the side, I’ll still work as hard as I possibly can. That is the same for
all of the lads, it is why we are doing as well as we are,” he said.
“In the dressing room we have just got a good, honest bunch of lads. We all work for each other, no matter who is injured, who is out of the side or whatever.
“No matter what the team is, we all know what the gaffer wants from us. The bare minimum is workrate and that is what we give the manager no matter what.”
The same applies to his future, which appeared to be in doubt last summer after a season in which he struggled to recover from a poor start to his career on Tyneside.
There was talk of him leaving Newcastle and a change of agent to the influential Kenny Shepherd seemed to signal a possible fresh start. But Perch insists he was committed to the club then – and he’s just as committed now.
He has two years left on his current contract and with United likely to have a European campaign to plan for next season, they will need a strong squad.
Perch’s versatility will certainly help United in their possible Continental endeavours. He said: “I love playing for this club. I’m really settled here and it’s perfect.
“I moved up here 18 months ago and even when I wasn’t playing last year and people were saying to me ‘You must hate it up there’ I was loving it.
“I love the place, I love the town, the beaches and everything about it.
“Even though I wasn’t enjoying my football I love the place and I love the club.”
United’s excellent Easter has thrust them into contention for the top four, but the squad have been told to ignore the hype surrounding their fine form.
Pardew does not want them to think about anything other than the Stoke game, which has the potential to trip up the in-form Magpies this weekend.
“We are not thinking about the Champions League or Europe or anything,” Perch confirmed.
“We’re just happy to be here but we just don’t want to let ourselves down now. I know it’s a cliche but we’re taking every game as it comes.
“We need to grasp the opportunity that we’ve been given but the way we do that is just by winning games and not letting ourselves get swept away by what is being said about us.”