United we stand – Newcastle United boss Pardew

Newcastle United's manager Alan Pardew.
Newcastle United's manager Alan Pardew.
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ALAN Pardew feels Newcastle United are in great shape heading into Saturday’s trip to Aston Villa – thanks to the “togetherness” in his new-look squad.

Newcastle got their season under way on Sunday with a 2-0 home loss to Manchester City, but return to a stadium which holds positive recent memories this weekend.

Villa Park was the scene of the club’s relegation in 2009, but United have won on their last two visits to the ground.

Last season, Hatem Ben Arfa inspired Pardew’s side to a 2-1 win at Villa in September – but the exiled Frenchman will again play no part this weekend.

Pardew is confident his team can triumph again in the second city against a Villa side which won their opening game of the season at Stoke City on Saturday.

He said: “We won there last year, and we can go there with confidence (after the performance against City), and hopefully get ourselves a win.”

Pardew insists the confidence in his Magpies side has not been dented by the opening weekend loss to the Premier League champions.

In fact, he sees the “togetherness” in the squad as a major asset, and says United will “win more than we lose” this term if it stays as it is.

He added: “I thought as a team and as a squad, you could see there was a togetherness there.

“If we take that into every game – we won’t come up against that sort of quality every week – we will win more than we lose.”

Newcastle failed to register a shot on target against City, despite the best efforts of the likes of Emmanuel Riviere, Remy Cabella and Moussa Sissoko.

Pardew, though, is unconcerned by a perceived lack of goal threat, with Papiss Demba Cisse and Siem de Jong not yet available due to injury.

He said: “I don’t think we should read too much into our goal threat (against City), because we still have Papiss to come back, and we still have Siem de Jong to join this group.

“If you put that into the mix – with Manu, who I thought was decent (on Sunday) – we have got a good forward line.”

Cisse is closing in on a return to training after suffering a broken kneecap late last season.

De Jong, meanwhile, missed the St James’s Park opener against Man City with a calf problem, but Pardew is hoping to have the Dutchman available for the trip to Villa.

He said: “I think Siem will be close next week.”

Twitter: @danielprince18