NEWCASTLE UNITED manager Alan Pardew will not make a decision on whether to sign Luuk de Jong permanently until the end of the season, but admitted the on-loan striker will have to start scoring in order to prolong his stay on Tyneside.
De Jong arrived from Borussia Monchengladbach in January, but the Dutch striker is yet to find the back of the net in eight appearances for the Magpies.
It is almost a year since the 23-year-old last scored a league goal when he grabbed the winner in Monchengladbach’s 1-0 victory over Greuther Furth in the Bundesliga before being allowed to join Newcastle in a loan deal at the turn of the year.
His form over the last 12 months is a shadow of the player who scored 29 goals in a season for FC Twente before earning his big-money move to Germany.
The Holland international has revealed his desire to stay on Tyneside beyond the end of the season, but Pardew admits he will have to prove his worth in front of goal.
“I won’t make a decision until the end of the year,” said Pardew, who will be back in the stadium for this weekend’s trip to Southampton, but won’t be allowed in the dug-out.
“I think our fans need to recognise where Luuk is. It’s very difficult for a player who has been at a club and has not been used after a big money move from Holland.
“He was a big player, a big personality who scored more goals in Holland than (Wilfried) Bony for example. He goes to Germany and it doesn’t work out, for whatever reason. I’m not blaming the club, but to get him back to where he was is a process and that’s the process he’s going through.
“Our fans need to give him a bit of time and understanding because there is definitely a pedigree there. That’s not my opinion, that’s pedigree proven in Dutch football.
“I have tried to introduce him and give him games where he can regain his confidence. I think he has had some good displays for us but I think there’s more to come. I hope between now and the end of the year that he shows that to our fans. We know at this club that we need strikers and I’m hoping he can tick a box for us between now and the end of the season.
“I think it’s important his all round game improves from where he is right now. But that will come from confidence and I can see him growing every day here. I know he likes the environment he has found himself in and players flourish when they start enjoying their football and hopefully he can start doing that again because he has had a tough time in Germany.
“At the end of this period he will have had three-and-a-half months with us and he needs to be pretty close (if we are going to sign him.)”
With Loic Remy still out, de Jong is likely to continue alongside Papiss Cisse at St Mary’s, but the Magpies will be without Tim Krul.
The Dutch keeper suffered a knee injury in a collision with Mike Williamson when Everton scored their second goal on Tuesday night, and Pardew revealed he will be out for the next two or three games, meaning Rob Elliot will step into the side.
Krul was dropped my Holland boss Louis van Gaal for the last round of international friendlies, but the Magpies boss believes he can still play his way into World Cup reckoning.
Pardew said: “There is no structural problem so it’s not going to stop his World Cup participation. He’s going to be out for a couple of weeks, because there is bruising on the bone.
“It’s a blow for him, yes, he wasn’t in the (Holland) squad last time and we were all very surprised about that. It was a bit of a blow, but we’re hoping the last month of the season he can make it back in there.”
Mathieu Debuchy is also still out. Pardew had hoped to have the defender and Remy, who will return to training over the weekend, back next week, but visit of Manchester United may come too early for the right-back.
Pardew will be in the stands after completing his three-match stadium ban and he admits it is a relief to be back involved in match-day preparations.
He said: “I’m pleased because it gives me access to the dressing room, which I like to operate in and I like to think I have some influence in. I’m looking forward to being back in a changing room that I know well.”