Newcastle boss Alan Pardew wary of aerial threat

AERIAL BATTLE ... Newcastle United boss Alan Pardew.
AERIAL BATTLE ... Newcastle United boss Alan Pardew.

ALAN Pardew’s admits Newcastle United face a tall order at Stoke City tonight – because of a lack of height in the team.

Defending and attacking corners and set-pieces has been a problem for Pardew’s side this season.

And the loss of Steven Taylor to injury in Sunday’s 2-0 defeat to Southampton won’t help matters over the coming weeks.

Pardew and his staff have changed their set-pieces this week ahead of the club’s visit to the Britannia Stadium, where they face one of the Premier League’s tallest teams.

“We’ve changed set-plays this week,” Pardew told the Gazette.

“We know very much that the first contact at corners has been a problem for us. It’s been a problem since Andy Carroll left.

“It improves when Shola (Ameobi) is in the team, but at the minute we aren’t the biggest side.”

Set-pieces are one of Stoke’s strongest suits, and Pardew admits marking will be an issue given the disparity in height between the two teams.

However, Pardew still believes United can find a way to end their barren run from corners.

“We’re coming up against Stoke,” added Pardew. “We’ll take a corner, and the people who will be marking us will be 6ft 4in or 6ft 5in.

“Our biggest is 6ft 2in, which is probably Willo (Mike Williamson). Other than that, we lack 6ft-plus players.

“But we shouldn’t get too bogged down about it as if it’s a big issue.

“Are we suddenly going to improve in that area? I don’t think we are.

“What we do need to do is find a route to make better use of our set-plays, and find a way that we manoeuvre a corner to score.”

“We’ve looked at that, and changed that this week again. We have done it twice already this season.

“It’s something that we’re conscious of in our minds.

“The most important thing is that we put in a performance where there’s a bit more energy, and a bit more determination in everything that we do.

“That’s what worried me on Sunday, more than the Swansea and West Ham games.

“The intensity of Southampton was greater than ours. It’s only happened twice to us. Sunday and Stevenage are the only two games that come into that category.”