NEWCASTLE boss Alan Pardew sees tomorrow’s visitors, West Ham, as one of the Magpies’ rivals for a top-10 Premier League finish this season.
Hammers chief Sam Allardyce signed former Newcastle striker Andy Carroll and ex-Liverpool winger Stewart Downing this summer, and opened the season with a 2-0 defeat of Cardiff.
Allardyce’s side finished 10th – and five points ahead of Newcastle – last season, and Pardew sees the Londoners as competing in the same “bracket” this term.
“Sam’s an experienced manager – there’s no danger of West Ham going down,” Pardew said. “They’ve got good players. You like to think they’re in the same bracket as us. So it’s a big game for us. A big three points in that little group I think we’re in.”
With Steven Taylor suspended for his dismissal against Manchester City, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa will start in central defence against West Ham, with Mike Williamson sidelined through injury.
Pardew has told the 24-year-old to seize his chance. “Willo’s injured – he’ll train on Monday – so there’s no decision (to make),” Pardew said. “Mapou will play with Colo (Fabricio Coloccini). Steven’s opened the door with that sending off, and Mapou needs to jump through and take it.”
Mbiwa started Monday night’s 4-0 defeat against City at left-back, with Davide Santon short of fitness because of a hip problem. Santon is available tomorrow, and 21-year-old Paul Dummett – who impressed in pre-season – is pushing for a first Premier League start. Pardew will be without injured pair Loic Remy (calf) and Jonas Gutierrez (hamstring), while Cheik Tiote (groin) is doubtful.