Newcastle Utd’s Cabaye will be ‘battle-hardened’ for Liverpool clash

TRICKY SITUATION ... Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew with Yohan Cabaye.
TRICKY SITUATION ... Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew with Yohan Cabaye.

NEWCASTLE United’s Yohan Cabaye will return from international duty “battle-hardened” – and ready to take the fight to Liverpool.

Cabaye is expected to start for France against Australia in Paris tonight along with club-mates Loic Remy and Mathieu Debuchy.

The midfielder was recalled to Didier Deschamps’s squad for the game - and the World Cup qualifier against Finland on Tuesday - after returning to the fold at Newcastle.

United manager Alan Pardew is normally wary of his players going away on international duty given the potential for injury.

But in this instance, Pardew feels Cabaye – who refused to play in the club’s first two Premier League games after becoming unsettled by a summer transfer bid from Arsenal – needs minutes on the pitch more than anything.

The 27-year-old was outstanding in last weekend’s 2-1 win over Cardiff City.

And Pardew wants more of the same from him when Liverpool visit St James’s Park on October 19.

“He was unbelievable in the first half, but he got tired,” Pardew said.

“He’s not battle-hardened yet, and I think the two games for France might be a good thing for us.”

Pardew will also have a keen eye on on-loan forward Remy, recalled to the squad after a seven-month absence following a blistering run of form up front for Newcastle.

The 26-year-old almost didn’t play against Cardiff because of an ankle problem, but he passed a late fitness test and scored both United’s goals at the Cardiff City Stadium.

“Loic nearly didn’t play,” added Pardew. “He had a sore ankle. It’s lucky he did, as they were two great goals.

“So we didn’t want to risk him in the last 20 minutes. He’s OK.”

France are level with Spain at the top of qualifying Group I ahead of the Finland match, but they have played a game more than the reigning world and European champions.

At worst, they will go into the play-offs, though they have a slim chance of progressing automatically to next summer’s finals in Brazil.

Cabaye, having “moved on” from the events of August, is now focused on club and country.

“We all have targets, and mine is the World Cup at the end of the season,” he said. “We have to play the play-offs, and it’s not going to be easy.

“We’ve got the squad – we have a good squad – so I hope we will play the World Cup in the summer.”

Newcastle midfielder Moussa Sissoko is also in France’s squad.