CHRIS Hughton will keep faith with under-fire full-back James Perch when Newcastle visit Manchester City tomorrow afternoon.

Perch picked up five bookings in his opening five matches as he struggled to come to terms with life in the Premier League in the opening month of the season.

His fortunes dipped further last Sunday as his 85th-minute own goal condemned the Magpies to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Stoke City.

Hughton was quick to offer his support to the 25-year-old in the wake of Sunday’s game, and has been delighted with the defender’s response to the setback.

"His confidence is absolutely fine," said the Newcastle boss. "He’s a player who is still developing at this level.

"It was one of those unfortunate incidents which players go through from time to time, but the important thing is that he bounces back. He has certainly trained very well."

Ryan Taylor offers an alternative option at right-back, while Danny Simpson could be available to return to the reserves next week following a lengthy injury lay off.

However, Hughton appears determined to persevere with Perch, who cost £1m when he moved from Nottingham Forest at the start of the summer.

That is not to say he will not make any changes from last weekend, though, with the defeat to the Potters having dampened much of the euphoria that accompanied back-to-back away wins over Everton and Chelsea.

"We have a competitive squad and, at the moment, we have a lot of fit players who are pushing hard for a starting role, which is very healthy," said Hughton.

"It’s hard though because, unless you have a midweek game, you are really working from game to game. Any changes have to be made on the back of the last game. I just want a healthy squad pushing for places."

Tomorrow’s game will provide a significant test of Newcastle’s new-found resilience on their travels, with City having claimed seven points from their opening three home games.

Hughton was at the City of Manchester Stadium on Thursday as Roberto Mancini’s side drew 1-1 with Juventus, and has been impressed by the flexibility of a team he expects to be challenging for honours this season.

"They have so much quality," he said. "You only have to look at the bench (on Thursday) and then at the players sitting in the stands.

"What they are able to do particularly well is change tactics. I watched them against Chelsea last week and they have brought in the quality needed to win things. They’re definitely a team on the up."