sport

Pardew backs imports to cope

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has backed his French players to meet the demands of the hectic festive schedule.

Pardew was one of the busiest managers in the Premier League last January as he recruited the likes of Mathieu Debuchy, Massadio Haidara, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Moussa Sissoko and Yoan Gouffran following a poor first half of the season.

The transfer business paid off as the Magpies managed to avoid relegation, and they go into this year's Christmas programme in sixth place with their French contingent pivotal to their runs of six wins in their last eight games.

Most of Pardew's French imports have yet to experience the gruelling demands of the next fortnight, but the Newcastle boss is confident they will come through the schedule with distinction.

Pardew said: "They have not really been through those horrible months that we had last year, November and December, so it's new to them.

"But I think they will cope. They look really strong at the minute. We have really worked hard on our fitness levels and therefore, I think we will be okay."

Debuchy, Sissoko and Gouffran in particular have become central figures in Newcastle's resurgence, which continued apace with Saturday's impressive 3-0 victory at Crystal Palace.

Strikes from Yohan Cabaye and Hatem Ben Arfa either side of Danny Gabbidon's own goal bagged three points at Selhurst Park, and Newcastle's French players have now scored 22 of the club's 24 Premier League goals this season.

Loic Remy leads the scoring charts on eight despite a five-game drought, with Gouffran on five, Cabaye four, Ben Arfa three and Debuchy and Sissoko with one each.

Only Gabbidon and the Magpies' own Welsh defender Paul Dummett have interrupted that streak, with the latter scoring as a substitute in a 2-2 draw with Liverpool at St James' Park on October 19.