Newcastle news

Pardew hails return of 'iconic' players

February 22, 2012
By ESPNsoccernet staff

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has hailed the return of his "iconic players" as the club prepare to take on Wolves this weekend.

Yohan Cabaye
GettyImagesYohan Cabaye: Focusing on first

French midfielder Yohan Cabaye is back from suspension, while Cheik Tiote is home again after playing for the Ivory Coast at the African Nations Cup. A win would lift the Magpies up to fifth place and Pardew is delighted to have a strong squad again.

"Now I have my strongest squad to pick from since Man United," he said. "We've come through the period without our iconic players, with some fantastic results still. That's where we are. We're hurt, but we're still in a great position. We're looking forward.

"Fifth in the table with a win has got to be the objective. That's what we will work on between now and Saturday. We're still disappointed with the Tottenham result, and I've seen that on the training ground this week. By our own standards, we need to make sure that never happens again.

"More importantly, we have two home games. Our home form's good - we've won our last three. Our home form's strong."

Wolves have yet to appoint a new manager to replace the sacked Mick McCarthy, but Pardew is not taking the game lightly.

"We come in against a team who haven't got a manager in place," he said. "We have to expect one may be on the sidelines on Saturday, and that would give an impact to Wolves. More importantly, regardless to what's happening at Wolves, a win would leave us in fifth place."

Cabaye, meanwhile, says that he is raring to go after a frustrating time on the sidelines.

"Three matches out was so long for me, and then another week without a fixture as well," he told the club's official website. "It was very frustrating how it happened at Brighton, but that is football and I have learned from it.

"But I have worked hard to be ready and fit again. During my time out I have been training with the team as normal but also training on my own at home. I wanted to stay as fit as possible so have been running and using the gym at home. If the manager selects me against Wolves I will be ready."