MAPOU Yanga-Mbiwa seized his unexpected chance against Hull City with both hands – and eased the pain of Fabricio Coloccini’s absence for troubled Newcastle boss Alan Pardew.
Yanga-Mbiwa was preferred to Steven Taylor in defence after captain Coloccini was given compassionate leave.
Coloccini was allowed to return to his native Argentina on the eve of the Premier League game because of a family bereavement.
Newcastle won 4-1 at the KC Stadium to move within two points of seventh-placed Manchester United, who have a game in hand.
And the performance of Yanga-Mbiwa, pictured, alongside Mike Williamson heartened United manager Pardew, who was yesterday charged with improper conduct over his unsavoury clash with Hull midfielder David Meyler.
Pardew says he will take Yanga-Mbiwa’s showing “into consideration” when he selects his starting XI for the club’s visit to Fulham on March 15.
Coloccini – who had only just returned from the knee injury he suffered on New Year’s Day – is likely to be back for the game at Craven Cottage.
“It didn’t disrupt things too much because Mapou was with us, and it was one for one,” Pardew said.
“The best thing in those circumstances was the guys who played to produce a top performance, which they did. It’s given an opportunity to Mapou, which he’s taken.
“I’ll take that into consideration when I pick my next team, obviously.”
It had been Mbiwa’s first league start since the January 18 win over West Ham United at Upton Park.
Long-serving Taylor deputised for Coloccini during his most recent absence.
However, Pardew feels Taylor – who had been fielded as the left centre-half – is more comfortable on the right, the position occupied by Williamson since late September.
“I took Mapou over Steven because I think Steven is a little bit uncomfortable on the left,” he said. “He prefers Willo’s channel. I couldn’t have asked for any more from Mapou. He was terrific.”
Pardew, meanwhile, has until 6pm on Thursday to respond to the FA’s charge, which has been described as “non-standard”. That means there is no real precedent and that it cannot be treated in the same way as other more common disciplinary matters.
As a result, there is no prescribed punishment and should Pardew admit the charge - his swift apology afterwards suggests he has little alternative - or be found guilty, he could find himself hit with a significant penalty which could even amount to a stadium ban.
The allegation is that Pardew head-butted Meyler after the player had collided with him on the touchline.
He was contrite after the game and his apology was accepted by Tigers counterpart Steve Bruce.
However, that cut little ice with his employers, who within hours announced they had fined him £100,000 and handed him a formal warning.
H Gael Bigirimana couldn’t stop Newcastle United’s Under-21s losing a fifth successive game on his comeback from injury.
The 20-year-old midfielder returned from an ankle problem in last night’s 2-1 defeat to bottom-of-the-table Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park.
Peter Beardsley’s side went behind in the 12th minute to a Paulo Jorge goal, but Rolando Aarons levelled for Newcastle.
Blackburn retook the lead 10 minutes into the second half, with Jordan Preston beating goalkeeper Jonathan Mitchell.
Bigirimana, sidelined since January, was substituted in the 61st minute.
Rovers saw the game out to claim only their second Under-21 Premier League victory of the season.
The game was watched by United’s first-team goalkeeping coach Andy Woodman, while United defender Ryan Taylor, recovering from long-term injury, also travelled to Lancashire.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Mitchell, Sterry, Gibson, Bigirimana (Gilliead, 61), Williams, Satka, Richardson, Olley, Quinn (Roberts, 90), Armstrong, Aarons. Subs not used: McKinnon, Pearson, Barlaser, Roberts.