NEWCASTLE United’s Vurnon Anita has been backed to ease the pain of Yohan Cabaye’s absence against Southampton.
Cabaye – the club’s match-winner against Manchester United last weekend – will miss tomorrow’s home game through suspension.
The midfielder picked up his fifth booking of the season – and a one-match ban – at Old Trafford, where he scored a memorable second-half winner.
And United manager Alan Pardew will look to his other midfield players, including the technically-gifted Anita, to drive his team forward and play a telling ball at St James’s Park.
Southampton, however, are expected to be without Morgan Schneiderlin, their playmaker.
Pardew worked with Schneiderlin during his time at the St Mary’s Stadium, and feels his likely absence could “even it up”.
“It’s a blow, because Yohan’s our creative influence,” Pardew said.
“It looks like Southampton will be without Schneiderlin, which would even it up a little bit. He’s their creative influence.
“That helps the cause, but, of course, in Anita – who will play – we have a player who is of the quality of Cheik (Tiote) and Cabaye.
“We’ve got nothing to worry about, really.”
Anita, recalled to the starting XI at Old Trafford, has had to be patient this term.
The 24-year-old was often on the bench last season, his first in the Premier League after his move from Ajax.
However, Pardew feels Anita is now better equipped to deal with the pace and power of English football.
“There were games last year in which Vurnon struggled a little bit, but what he’s done is address those issues,” he said.
“He looks stronger and fitter. He certainly has more experience in the Premier League, and that’s been reflected in his performances.
“He’s justified why we paid a lot of money for him.”
Meanwhile, Pardew reported no fresh injury concerns in his pre-match Press conference.
The only long-term absentee is Ryan Taylor, who isn’t expected to play again this season after undergoing more knee surgery.