ALAN Pardew has defended his team selection for Newcastle United’s FA Cup defeat to Cardiff City.
The club’s manager made seven changes – four of them enforced through injury and suspension – for Saturday’s third-round tie.
But despite taking the lead, Pardew’s team couldn’t book a place in the fourth round of the competition, where an away tie against Championship club Bolton Wanderers would have awaited them.
By the time leading scorer Loic Remy came on five minutes from time, Newcastle – who had led through a 62nd-minute goal from Papiss Demba Cisse – were trailing 2-1.
Pardew was without the suspended Mathieu Debuchy and injured trio Yohan Cabaye, Fabricio Coloccini and Tim Krul.
But he felt his starting XI, which included seven internationals, was fit for purpose.
Asked by SportMail about his team selection, Pardew said: “That was a team which, for 65 minutes, was well in control.
“It was only the last period of the game that got away from us.
“At this level, and I’m talking about the opposition being a Premier League team, you can’t give them a leg up.
“We gave them a leg up, and suddenly we ended up losing the initiative. When you lose the initiative, you’re in danger of losing the game, and we did.”
Pardew – whose side entertain Manchester City on Sunday – insisted the changes were to “freshen up” a team which had played five games in 15 days over the Christmas and New Year period.
But United – who had been lacklustre before the break – lost their way after taking a second-half lead, and Pardew was left to bemoan a wonder strike from Craig Noone and a free header from Fraizer Campbell.
“There were two players who were injured, and other than that, the changes I made were to freshen the team up.
“Loic Remy was on the bench to give Papiss a start. It was good to see him score – I suppose that was some sort of consolation we got out of the game.
“But having said that, I’m disappointed. I can’t say any more than that.”
– MILES STARFORTH