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Cabaye confesses to derby-day misdeed
YOHAN Cabaye has dispelled any fears that Newcastle's foreign players are not prepared for the intensity of tomorrow's Wear-Tyne derby with Sunderland by recalling his last meeting with the Black Cats.
The French midfielder had clashed with Phil Bardsley in the build-up to Ryan Taylor's winner in the first derby of last season, so when the players met again moments before the return fixture at St James' Park, the Sunderland full-back attempted to gain the psychological upper hand.
Cabaye responded with a thunderous physical challenge in the opening stages of the game, an act that quashed any suggestion of Newcastle's overseas contingent not treating the derby with the same importance as the fans.
“He (Bardsley) shook my hand very strongly and gave me a long look,” said Cabaye. “He made it clear he had not forgotten.
“I thought, 'Okay', and in my first challenge with him, I went in hard and got a yellow card. I know it was not right – but it's the kind of thing that makes me grow up.”
Cabaye has spent most of the last week on international duty with France, helping his national side secure a creditable 1-1 draw with world and European champions Spain on Tuesday.
In the wake of that game, Spain boss Vicente del Bosque compared him to his own side's star central midfielder, Xavi, a comparison that is not as far-fetched as it may seem.
Cabaye is the midfield fulcrum for both Newcastle and France, and attempts to emulate Xavi by completing more than 100 passes a game, a target Andres Iniesta claims is Xavi's minimum requirement.
“That stuck with me,” said Cabaye. “One hundred passes, I must hit that now. For me, Xavi is the best player in the world. Whenever there is a Barcelona match, I watch it to learn, try to get closer to his level. I know it's impossible, but I can try.
“He always keeps the ball, he is always on the move, always finds good space. He always makes the pass that can take out three players.”