Pardew targets defensive boost

The Northern Echo: Pardew targets defensive boost Pardew targets defensive boost

After failing to capture several strike targets in the summer window, Pardew and his scouting team have continued their search for a new forward.

However, having been left short at the back after injuries to Fabricio Coloccini and Steven Taylor in recent weeks, as well as the absence of Mike Williamson, who has only just returned from an ankle injury, the Magpies boss admits adding to his defensive options is now his top priority.

In the defeat to Norwich, Pardew was forced to play a central defensive pairing of Danny Simpson and James Perch, which was the former Nottingham Forest man's first league start in almost a year, and the Magpies boss has admitted his search for a new centre-half is ongoing.

Pardew has already been linked with Blackburn Rovers defender Christopher Samba, who has stated his desire to leave Ewood Park.

But with his wages likely to be above Mike Ashley's strict structure and the fact he is 27, the Congolese man doesn't fit into the Magpies' transfer blueprint.

Montpellier skipper Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Birmingham's Liam Ridgewell, PSV's Erik Pieters and Tottenham's former Newcastle defender Sebastien Bassong are all among the targets as Pardew's recruitment team continue their search.

Ideally, Pardew would bring both a striker and a central defender to the club in January, but the collapse of Sochaux front man Modibo Maiga's £7m transfer has sent them back to the drawing board.

Chief scout Graham Carr has been to France to watch Montpellier front man Oliver Giroud, among others, but as was the case in the summer, the Magpies will expect tough negotiations from France.

Should he bring in another forward, Pardew will hope a new signing can emulate the success of Demba Ba, who has had a terrific start to his career on Tyneside.

The Senegalese hit-man has struck 11 times in his last 12 starts and his manager believes the fact a defender is now his top target offers a vote of confidence to Ba, as well as fellow strikers Shola Ameobi, Leon Best and Peter Lovenkrands.

Pardew also revealed he could offer Ba the No 9 shirt next season but admitted it would be the player's choice.

"We're going to look at the guys who did well for us last year. If a striker comes in this next window, we'll have to wait and see.

"I think Demba Ba's all-round ability in terms of goals and everything has been a real big bonus this year.

"If I knew he'd perform to that level he would have got the number nine shirt. Players get attached to a shirt and they get superstitious. I don't think he wants it, but we'll see.

"I think even on Saturday a couple of things he did were exceptional.

"We have a real talent there and we will miss him for the African Cup of Nations."

After Saturday's goalless draw with Swansea stretched Newcastle's winless run to five, Pardew is hopeful his side can return to winning ways against West Bromich Albion at St James' Park tonight.

But he will have to do so without key man Yohan Cabaye, who is suspended after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season on Saturday.

Pardew admits the French midfielder will be a miss, but insists the rest could prove a blessing in disguise ahead of the festive period.

He said: "Yohan will be missed because he has been magnificent for us so far this year. We have come to take some of the stuff he does for granted, his passing, his switching of play and the way he manoeuvres the ball for us.

"He will be a loss but somewhere along the line he needed a rest probably. He has played for us and France and maybe when we go to Bolton he will freshen us up a bit."

WBA's former Middlesbrough midfielder James Morrison misses out tonight with a hamstring injury.

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