Newcastle United have the strength to cover absent stars

IMPRESSIVE FORM: Newcastle United defender Mike Williamson,
IMPRESSIVE FORM: Newcastle United defender Mike Williamson,

MIKE Williamson is confident Newcastle United can cope without Fabricio Coloccini and Mathieu Debuchy – thanks to the strength in depth at St James’s Park.

Coloccini faces up to six weeks on the sidelines with the knee injury he suffered in United’s 1-0 defeat to West Bromwich Albion on New Year’s Day.

And Debuchy will miss the next three games through suspension after being sent off at the Hawthorns.

United manager Alan Pardew is likely to call upon Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and possibly Steven Taylor for tomorrow’s third-round FA Cup tie against Cardiff City at St James’s Park (kick-off 3pm).

And defender Williamson, who himself was on the fringes at the start of the season, believes the Parddew’s squad will come into its own in the absence of Coloccini and Debuchy.

“They’re two fantastic players and they made huge contributions to our winning streak, but we’ve got strength in depth,” Williamson told SportMail.

“We’ve got players who are more than capable of doing a job, so it’s about regrouping and trying to continue to momentum we’ve had previously.”

Pardew was reluctant to change a winning team during United’s run of Premier League wins late last year and Yanga-Mbiwa and Taylor especially have had to be patient.

However, the hectic Christmas and New Year period inevitably tests squads and the challenge for Williamson and his team-mates is to quickly regroup ahead of Cardiff’s visit to Tyneside tomorrow.

“We’ve had quite a settled team over the past couple of months, but we’ve had a busy period and it’s taken its toll,” added Williamson.

“It was frustrating (at West Brom).

“In the first half, we felt in control of the game without creating too much ourselves.

“The manager brought Hatem (Ben Arfa) on and we thought we could make our pressure tell, but obviously the sending off was a turning point.

“Then we lost Colo and that changed the game.

“It’s all about recovering and making sure we’re ready for Saturday.”

Newcastle have a dismal recent record in the FA Cup and Pardew spelled out the importance of the game to his players in the dressing room after their loss at the Hawthorns.

“It’s huge,” said Williamson. “The manager said in the dressing room after the game we’ve got a massive game on Saturday.

“The players know that.

“As much as the FA Cup is a fantastic competition to be in, it’s also about momentum and getting that winning feeling back in the team.

“That’s what we need to do – build confidence and go again.”