NEWCASTLE midfielder Yohan Cabaye will return from international duty “battle-hardened” – and ready to take the fight to Liverpool.
Cabaye is expected to start for France against Australia in Paris tonight, along with club-mates Loic Remy and Mathieu Debuchy.
The midfielder was recalled to Didier Deschamps’s squad for the friendly – and Tuesday’s final World Cup qualifier against Finland – after returning to the fold at St James’s Park.
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew is normally wary of his players going away on international duty given the potential for injury.
But, in this instance, Pardew feels Cabaye – who refused to play in the Magpies’ first two Premier League games after becoming unsettled by a summer transfer bid from Arsenal – needs minutes on the pitch more than anything.
The 27-year-old was outstanding in last weekend’s 2-1 win at Cardiff.
And Pardew wants more of the same from him when Liverpool visit St James’s Park next weekend.
“He was unbelievable in the first half, but he got tired,” Pardew said, looking back on the victory over Cardiff. “He’s not battle-hardened yet, and I think the two games for France might be a good thing for us.”
Pardew will also have a keen eye on on-loan forward Remy, recalled to the national squad after a seven-month absence following a blistering run of form up front for Newcastle.
The 26-year-old almost did not play against Cardiff because of an ankle problem, but he passed a late fitness test and scored both of the visitors’ goals at the Cardiff City Stadium.
“Loic nearly didn’t play,” added Pardew. “He had a sore ankle. It’s lucky he did, as they were two great goals. So we didn’t want to risk him in the last 20 minutes. He’s OK.”
France are level with Spain at the top of qualifying Group I ahead of the Finland match, but they have played a game more than the reigning world and European champions.
At worst, they will go into the play-offs, though they have a slim chance of progressing automatically to next summer’s finals in Brazil.
Cabaye, having “moved on” from the events of August, is now focused on club and country.
“We all have targets, and mine is the World Cup at the end of the season,” he said. “We have to play the play-offs, and it’s not going to be easy.
“We’ve got the squad – we have a good squad – so I hope we will play the World Cup in the summer.”
Newcastle midfielder Moussa Sissoko is also in France’s squad.