ALAN Pardew’s launched a staunch defence of Danny Simpson ahead of his return from injury.
Simpson’s expected to start for Newcastle United at St James’s Park against a strong Bordeaux tonight.
The 25-year-old has spent the past month on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.
Simpson has come in for criticism from some quarters, and many fans were frustrated when the club failed in a bid to sign Lille right-back Mathieu Debuchy in the summer.
However, Pardew’s confident Simpson will help shore up a defence which has been leaking goals in the Premier League.
“I just think he’s a good defender,” Pardew told the Gazette. “I think he’s had some unfair criticism in terms of (me) improving the team by replacing Danny.
“I actually don’t agree with that, especially defensively. We wouldn’t have had the problems we had at Reading (where Newcastle drew 2-2 on Saturday) if Danny had been fit.”
Pardew will be without injured centre-halves Steven Taylor and Fabricio Coloccini for the Bordeaux game, and his defensive options are limited.
And Salford-born Simpson – whose former club Manchester United visit St James’s Park on Sunday – has turned out for Newcastle in the centre of defence.
“Danny could play there, but he won’t (against Bordeaux),” said Pardew.
Talks over a new deal for Simpson – who is out of contract next summer – broke down last season, and it is unclear whether negotiations will restart.
Meanwhile, goalkeeper Tim Krul is not yet fit to play, and Pardew will choose between Steve Harper and Rob Elliot.
Elliot – who was outstanding in the goalless draw against Maritimo late last month – is yet to play a home game for United.
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