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Pardew vows to stick with under-performing midfielder
NEWCASTLE UNITED manager Alan Pardew had vowed to stick with Moussa Sissoko through “thick and thin” even if the under-performing midfielder has struggled to hit the heights he reached in the early stages of his St James’ Park career.
The Magpies welcome Chelsea to the North-East tomorrow lunchtime and are desperate to end a bad week with a good result following defeats to Sunderland and Manchester City.
In the same fixture last season, Sissoko set Tyneside alight when he scored twice to earn Pardew’s side a crucial 3-2 over the Stamford Bridge outfit on his home debut.
It was only his second appearance for the club following a January move from Toulouse and he followed that up with another goal in the 4-2 win over Southampton a few weeks later.
It looked as though the Magpies had unearthed another gem from their exploits in the French transfer market, but Sissoko’s form towards the end of last season and for much of this campaign has been a shadow of that when he first joined.
He has often been used in a wide role or as a second striker and his performances of late have drawn in criticism from various quarters.
However, Pardew insists he will stand by the 24-year-old through his difficult spell and hopes memories of his home debut performance against tomorrow’s opponents can help him find form.
“I still think he can be the player we saw against Chelsea last season but I understand why people are asking questions,” said Pardew, who refused to answer questions regarding speculation linking him with the vacant manager’s job at Crystal Palace. “He's had a chequered start where he's been fantastic in some games....I thought he was brilliant on Wednesday night.
“When you look at the modern Premier League, and you look at the likes of Man City, Chelsea and Spurs they have such great power and height and athleticism.
“I would consider myself a big central midfielder when I played in the 90s. But now I'd be a small central midfielder. That's where we are. Moussa has all the ingredients of a modern midfielder, he's powerful, he's strong and he's got that attacking ability.
“The only thing he's getting wrong at the minute is getting used to the Premier League and getting used to different environments when teams drop off or put us under pressure. He needs that experience. He's going to be a big player for this football club.
“Through thick and thin I'll stick by him because I know it's in there.”
Pardew is also confident Papiss Cisse can rediscover his goalscoring touch after admitting to showing the striker clips of his wonder goal against Chelsea two seasons ago.
The Senegal international has now gone 14 league games without scoring and despite starting Wednesday night’s Capital One Cup defeat to Manchester City, his place in tomorrow’s side is vulnerable.
Much like Sissoko, the 28-year-old has looked a shadow of his former self this season, but Pardew insists his run of games without scoring isn’t through a lack of effort.
He said: “One thing he (Cisse) generates is love. Everybody I speak to is desperate for him to get that break and I think that's what you need. As a striker sometimes you just need that break. I think that's what he's searching for at the moment.
“His effort, he's not sulking, he's not doing anything in the team to disrupt in terms of stopping making runs, he's doing everything we want, he's just not getting that break. We've got to try and work with him and encourage him and hopefully give him an opportunity to get a goal.”
And Pardew insists Loic Remy’s arrival and subsequent run of goals hasn’t affected his £9m striker.
Pardew added: “I don't think there's any correlation between Remy scoring and Papiss' situation. Loic's played a lot in that wide area and got goals. We know he can play through the middle, which we've not given him many opportunities to do yet. I don't think that affects Papiss too much.
“Like all strikes you get envious when you see another player scoring because you want to score yourself. Maybe there's a little bit of that in there but hopefully that will fire him up.”
The Magpies boss is expected to be without Paul Dummett, who suffered an injury on Wednesday night, while Steven Taylor and Fabricio Coloccini are still not ready to return to action.
Pardew confirmed his captain should been in with a chance of playing against Tottenham a week on Sunday, but revealed Taylor would not start training until the international break.
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