CHRIS Hughton has been surprised by the speed with which Mike Williamson has settled into Newcastle’s back four as he praised his partnership with Fabricio Coloccini.
Despite not playing a single first-team game during a miserable five-month spell at Portsmouth, Williamson has slid in effortlessly alongside Coloccini in the centre of defence.
And, with Steven Taylor still at least another month away from a return from a knee injury, Hughton feels his centre-back partnership has given the team the solid platform they have needed to pull away at the top of the table.
He said: “I am delighted with how Coloccini and Williamson have gelled as a partnership. In Mike you have a player who did very well for Watford in this division, so he knew it. Coloccini is in his second season here and at times he has been outstanding for me.
“It is probably both their individual strengths that, at this moment in time, have complemented each other.
“Mike would probably be the first one to admit that he has come into a good team and your introduction is smoother and easier if you come into a team that is winning and playing well. That has helped him but he is still the one that has to go out there and do his job.”
However, Hughton refused to be drawn into a debate as to whether Williamson was able to make the step up to the Premier League after his ill-fated time at Pompey.
He said: “We are asked this numerous times about all our players and at the moment none of them are Premier League players because they are playing in the Championship. If we are able to get there then we can make those comments then and not before.”
Hughton will not do anything to hurry Taylor’s comeback as he looks to make sure the defender is in the best possible shape when he does return.
He said: “He is still about four weeks away. I don’t think we can rush him back. He has to follow the programme laid out by the medical department. It was an injury that was always going to keep him out for a period of time and, if it is anything less, then it is a bonus.”