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Pardew backs Sissoko to be a second-season success
ALAN Pardew has backed Moussa Sissoko to make a success of his second season in English football, and claimed the Newcastle midfielder is beginning to achieve the consistency that had previously been lacking from his game.
Sissoko has started all eight of Newcastle’s Premier League matches this season, and is expected to maintain his ever-present record when the Magpies make the short trip to Sunderland for Sunday’s eagerly-anticipated Wear-Tyne derby.
The 24-year-old made an instant impression when he left Toulouse to move to Tyneside in January, impressing on his debut at Aston Villa and scoring two goals in his following game against Chelsea.
His form since then has dipped somewhat, but there were glimpses of an improvement in standards in this month’s 2-1 win at Cardiff, and while he was unfortunate to have to make way after Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa was sent off in last weekend’s draw with Liverpool, he remains an integral part of Pardew’s first-choice midfield.
“I think Moussa’s a player who's perfect for the Premier League in terms of his physical stature, his mentality, his work rate and his quality,” said the Newcastle boss.
“There have been games this season where he's probably not reached the heights that he hit when he first arrived. But there have been other games where he's been very, very strong.
“I think he's getting the balance right. He's one of the players we're looking to for consistency of performance. If we can get him consistently in the sevens and eights, then he's going to be a massive asset for the club.”
Sissoko was part of the Newcastle side that suffered the embarrassment of a 3-0 defeat to Sunderland on home soil in April.
The fall-out from the reverse lasted until the end of last season, and while the Magpies have regrouped and head into the weekend in the top half of the table, the memory of their most recent derby humbling refuses to fade.
The wounds are especially raw for Tim Krul as the derby defeat was exacerbated by a shoulder injury that ruled him out of the final five games of the season.
Now fully recovered, the Dutch international is hoping to complete the healing process when he lines up against Sunderland again on Sunday.
“It was a double blow,” said Krul. “I was badly injured and we lost the game, but that happens in football.
“I’m happy that derby day has come round quickly again because it’s a chance for me to make up for it all.
“It doesn’t need explaining and, for us players, we don’t need a build-up. It is always the game you look forward to when the fixture list comes out.
“The fans always remind you of it, and that gives you that extra spice. They are the type of games you enjoy.”
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