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Newcastle new-boys set to start at Villa
ALL five of Newcastle's January signings will be in the squad that travels to Aston Villa tonight, with Alan Pardew expressing confidence they will be able to hit the ground running.
Full-back Massadio Haidara will not be part of the starting line-up, but Mathieu Debuchy, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Moussa Sissoko and Yoan Gouffran are all set to start as the Magpies attempt to haul themselves away from the relegation zone.
Yanga-Mbiwa, Sissoko and Gouffran have all been on Newcastle's books for less than a week, but the club's position just two points above the bottom three has abolished any prospect of a lengthy settling-in period.
"Massadio, the left-back, is really one for the future," said Pardew. "He definitely won't be involved, although I will take him in the squad.
"The other four are in contention and it is really about getting the balance right. Of course, they're new guys and we're trying to settle them here, but so far the signs have been progressive and good.
"The challenge for me, as a coach and manager, is to get a team gelled together quickly, and sometimes the style of the player is significant in that.
"Defenders can sometimes find it difficult to understand the Premier League because there are a lot of complexities to positioning and the speed of the game, but there are some players that you just know are at the right level and are going to hit the ground running."
While Yanga-Mbiwa was the most expensive of Newcastle's January recruits, there is a strong sense that the signing of Sissoko has generated the most excitement within the corridors of power at St James' Park.
The former Toulouse midfielder was once the subject of a £15m bid from Tottenham, and Newcastle owner Mike Ashley was persuaded to spend £1.8m in order to bring the 23-year-old to the North-East now rather than the summer, when he would have been available as a free agent.
"Of all the signings, Sissoko was probably the most important for myself because I think he's a player who is adapted for the Premier League," said Pardew.
"His strength and ability will automatically gain him the assurance he needs to play at this level, and we needed a player like that. I thought we were missing power and pace in the side and I make no bones about it, he will definitely play at Villa."
Ten days ago, when Newcastle lost 2-1 to Reading, it was easy to detect an air of despondency in the camp. The arrival of so many new players has transformed the mood on the training ground, and it will be the Magpies' opponents, Aston Villa, who kick off tonight's game in a sense of panic.
Almost half of Newcastle's starting line-up will have played no part in the opening five-and-a-half months of the season, while those who were involved have been boosted by the influx of a group of established internationals.
"I'm happier coming in to work now, and I think the players will be too," said Pardew. "My position is taking responsibility for the team and taking the pressure and I've got no problem with that, but if you're a player and you're suddenly walking out with the group we've got now and you look round at the bench, you'd have to feel a lot more confident.
"We've got a good team and I think we've worked hard this week. The players understand I have to pick a team that's right for Newcastle every week now, and they have to accept the decision.
"I won't be making too many excuses for them. Now, we're all accountable for what happens on that pitch and we need to take that into every game."
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