MAPOU Yanga-Mbiwa has been challenged to fill Fabricio Coloccini’s boots against Liverpool tomorrow – and help Newcastle United stop dangermen Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge.
Yanga-Mbiwa was dropped for the Magpies’ last game, the 2-1 win at Cardiff City 13 days ago.
The defender had paid the price for Newcastle’s defensive problems in the previous 3-2 defeat at Everton.
But Fabricio Coloccini’s absence through injury tomorrow – Newcastle’s captain has a groin problem – means a recall for 24-year-old, who is still adjusting to the demands of English football.
Coloccini took his time to get to grips with the pace and power of the Premier League.
And manager Alan Pardew says he and his coaching staff are giving Yanga-Mbiwa, signed from Montpellier in January, “solutions” to the problems he has faced.
Pardew said: “Mapou will play. He came out of this team, but he has put in some strong performances.
“Certainly, it takes time to adjust to the Premier League.
“I remember Coloccini’s first year here. Sometimes it takes some adjusting. What we’ve done is give him some solutions to get the best out of him.”
Pardew says Yanga-Mbiwa reacted in the right way to his omission at Cardiff, where Mike Williamson partnered Coloccini in the heart of his defence.
And he believes Yanga-Mbiwa’s pace will be a “massive asset” to Newcastle over the course of his contract.
“You are looking for a bit of character in a player,” added Pardew. “We’ve seen that in him.
“He’s a player with tremendous pace. He has to utilise that. If he can do that, he is going to be a massive asset for us.
“We paid a lot of money for Mapou. We are hoping he can get Premier League football in a short period of time. He is growing as a player, and he will get better.”
Yanga-Mbiwa and Williamson face an unenviable task against Liverpool, whose strike partnership of Suarez and Sturridge is arguably the strongest in the division.
Suarez has scored three goals since his return from suspension, while Sturridge has netted six times.
Pardew says Newcastle’s midfield must give his back four protection.
“When you play against these two particular strikers, they give you all sorts of problems,” said Pardew.
“They play in front of you. So your line is important, and your units have to be close. So our midfield has got as an important a job as our back four.”