NEWCASTLE midfielder Vurnon Anita has been backed to ease the pain of suspended star Yohan Cabaye’s absence against Southampton tomorrow.
Cabaye – the Magpies’ match-winner at Manchester United last weekend – serves a one-game ban against the Saints at St James’s Park.
The visitors are expected to miss playmaker Morgan Schneiderlin, and Newcastle boss Alan Pardew – who worked with Schneiderlin during his time in charge at St Mary’s – feels his likely absence could “even it up”.
“It’s a blow, because Yohan’s our creative influence,” Pardew said. “It looks like Southampton will be without Schneiderlin, which would even it up a little bit. He’s their creative influence.
“That helps the cause, but, of course, in Anita – who will play – we have a player who is of the quality of Cheick (Tiote) and Cabaye.
“We’ve got nothing to worry about, really.”
Anita, recalled to the starting XI at Old Trafford last week, has had to be patient.
The 24-year-old was often on the bench last season, his first in the Premier League after joining from Ajax.
However, Pardew feels Anita is now better equipped to deal with the pace and power of English football.
“There were games last year in which Vurnon struggled a little bit, but what he’s done is address those issues,” he said.
“He looks stronger and fitter. He certainly has more experience in the Premier League, and that’s been reflected in his performances.
“He’s justified why we paid a lot of money for him.”
Meanwhile, Pardew reported no fresh injury concerns in his pre-match Press conference.
The only long-term absentee is Ryan Taylor, who is not expected to play again this season after undergoing more knee surgery.