Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew is still confident his side can comfortably see off the threat of relegation this season with the return of a number of senior players, despite a 1-0 away defeat to Aston Villa on Sunday.
The Magpies were without midfield duo Cheick Tiote and Kevin Nolan, with centre-half Fabricio Colocinni deputising alongside Danny Guthrie in the middle of the park, and striker Leon Best’s continuing injury woes allowing 19-year-old Nile Ranger to make his Premier League debut.
Speaking to Sky Sports after the game, Pardew said: “I think we just missed the core of our team today, [we missed] some big players, and probably for Villa it was a good call because of the players missing.
“Having said that it was a gallant effort. In our passing we could’ve been crisper and better, yet we still could have nicked something at the end.”
Despite defeat, Newcastle are currently sat in ninth position in the Premier League, and find themselves 7 points above of the relegation zone with six games left to play this season, a factor which Pardew is hopeful can see his side through safely to the end of the campaign.
“Everybody in the division is the same, we just need to get to those 41-42 points so we're comfortable,” he continued. “There’s plenty of games [and we have] plenty of good players, [and we] want to finish stronger than that if we can.”
The former West Ham and Southampton boss was also pleased with the role played by Joey Barton, whose midweek criticism of the form of Gareth Barry in particular brought increased attention to the Newcastle United stand-in captain’s performance.
“For us the suspension [of Nolan] and then losing Shola [Ameobi] this morning affected us to a certain degree.
"It was committed performance [from Barton]. It wasn’t his best game, but he still gave his normal effort for us.”