ALAN Pardew felt Fabricio Coloccini and Cheik Tiote weren’t fit enough to play – but he was glad he pressed the pair back into action.
Coloccini and Tiote returned from injury for Newcastle United in yesterday’s 1-0 home win over Aston Villa.
Captain Coloccini had been sidelined since New Year’s Day with a knee injury, while midfielder Tiote had missed the club’s last two games with a hamstring problem.
While both were short of fitness, they still played pivotal roles in the game, decided by Loic Remy’s injury-time goal.
“Both of them weren’t fit for a Premier League game,” United manager Pardew said.
“With Colo, you could notice it a little bit down the sides. He had a couple of chases which he’s usually first to, but I knew his presence was going to be important.
“Cheik wasn’t at his full-flowing best, but it was such a big difference to have those two back.”
Pardew felt Coloccini’s “calmness” had been missed by Newcastle, who had lost their five previous home games and conceded 10 goals without reply in their last three outings.
“We’ve worked really hard with him,” said Pardew. “I spoke to him all week and his presence was everything.
“If he was going to be a little bit uncomfortable with some of their pace, we would have to accept that.
“But the result justifies the means. Just his calmness – we were very erratic with the ball, very nervous, which I expected.
“But not him. He never gets himself into that mode.”
On Mike Williamson, Coloccini’s defensive partner, Pardew added: “Williamson, I thought, was fantastic against (Christian) Benteke in the air, who is probably the best aerial attacking player.
“I thought he was outstanding. We really needed a clean sheet.”