DAVIDE Santon is prepared to step into the shoes of Mathieu Debuchy and prove his versatility to the Newcastle United cause.
The Italian defender has made the left-back position his own this season, holding off the challenge of Paul Dummett and Massadio Haidara in recent weeks.
But with Frenchman Debuchy suspended for United’s next Premier League encounter – the visit of Norwich City to St James’s Park a week on Saturday – manager Alan Pardew will be forced into a defensive reshuffle.
Newcastle have been left with just one specialist right-back this season in Debuchy, after Danny Simpson was allowed to leave the club on a free transfer in the summer.
And that could mean Santon switching flanks.
The Italian admits he prefers to play on the left, despite being naturally right-footed, but says he is happy to play wherever Pardew decides he is needed.
“I can play right-back,” said the 22-year-old. “I prefer left-back but I know I have to improve my left foot. When I play left-back I can go left to right.
“When I play right-back and try to go inside it is a little bit more difficult but I enjoy both.
“If the manager needs me to play right-back, I am here to play where he wants me.”
Dummett and Haidara are both struggling with injuries picked up in the Capital One Cup defeat against Manchester City, but could be close to a comeback by the time Chris Hughton brings his Norwich City side to Tyneside.
Another option for Pardew is to switch Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa to full-back and recall captain Fabricio Coloccini to the starting line-up for the game.
Coloccini – who has not played since injuring his hamstring in the last international break – was an unused substitute in the weekend’s win over Tottenham Hotspur, with Pardew opting to keep faith with the central defensive partnership of Mike Williamson and Yanga-Mbiwa.
Steven Taylor is also hoping to be fit for the visit of the Canaries, having only played 45 minutes this season with his first-half dismissal against Manchester City in the opening game of the season followed up by a hamstring injury.