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Cabaye admits he is short of his Magpies best
YOHAN CABAYE has played down suggestions he is unhappy on Tyneside by claiming the unity within the Newcastle United squad remains as strong it was last season.
After a summer of speculation surrounding the Frenchman's future amid tentative interest expressed in him by Manchester United and Barcelona, the Magpies did well to keep hold of him this season.
Cabaye could also have been affected by Newcastle's failure to bring in his former Lille team-mate Mathieu Debuchy having spent much of the summer persuading the full-back to join him in the North-East.
But the France international, part of his country's disappointing Euro 2012 campaign, insists he is not unsettled and that a hectic summer is merely the reason for his slow start to the season on a personal level.
Cabaye said: “I’m very happy here, I’ve never thought any different. I’m very happy to play for Newcastle. It was hard straight after the Euros. I had four weeks holiday and it is the first time I’ve come back after a big international competition in my career.
“I’ve felt really tired. It was a hard first season in England with all the games and no winter break. I’m working very hard at the moment to get fit, I want to play every game at full speed for 90 minutes and I will get there. That has been the big thing for me so far this season, but I’m very happy here.
“It has been difficult for me, I don’t want to make excuses, but I’m getting back to full fitness. I will work more, rest better between games and I will be fine.”
Despite defeating Tottenham on the opening weekend, Newcastle have failed to follow that up with a further win over Chelsea or Aston Villa in the Premier League fixtures.
Newcastle head to Everton tonight looking to recapture the winning habit and Cabaye is confident there remains a strong sense of camaraderie and belief in the Newcastle squad to enable them to enjoy a good season.
“The spirit is just as strong as it was last season,” he said. “We will have to be stronger mentally this season. We surprised people last season when we finished fifth. This year is different, every team knows what we can do on the pitch and we are a target.
“We are going to have to be better this season to keep going. The right mentality is very important for us and I think we have that in the dressing room.”
For Newcastle to tick again they know the performances of Cabaye will be crucial. The 26-year-old, likely to play tonight and be rested for the Europa League trip to Maritimo on Thursday, said: “I can get better. I started against Tottenham and that was my first game after the Euros.
“I am late getting back to full fitness and sharpness compared to my team-mates. But I will not let my confidence suffer. I haven’t played as well as I would have liked so far, but I will keep working hard and my best form will come.
“I’ve had one year in England and I think this will be a better season for me. I’m getting better with each game and I am giving my all to the team.
“I played better last season, I know that, but I will get there again when the fitness is there. Maybe I haven’t been fit enough to play 90 minutes so far, but I feel good.”
Newcastle will have to reshuffle their pack tonight because of the injuries to Tim Krul (elbow) and Fabricio Coloccini (hamstring). Striker Demba Ba, though, is fit and is likely to start against the team he could have joined 13 months ago.
Everton boss David Moyes admitted over the weekend he thought he had him at one stage – only to be gazumped in the end by the Magpies.
Moyes said: “Ba was someone I was really interested in last year, but for a number of reasons the deal just didn’t come off.
“He’s just another one of those who got away – and I’ve had plenty of them down the years. We needed a centre-forward and that became clear when we started the season because we were really short of goals.
“We couldn’t get Ba in and he did very well at Newcastle, but other options opened up for us in January and we were happy with what we got.”