Santon: Newcastle Utd squad is in good shape

IMPACT ... Hatem Ben Arfa.
IMPACT ... Hatem Ben Arfa.

DAVIDE Santon’s confident Newcastle United have the strength in depth to go the distance in the Premier League.

Alan Pardew’s side are sixth in the division after winning six of their last eight games.

And there are hopes the team can again qualify for European football.

United’s form this term is in contrast to that last season when the club fought to stay in the top flight.

Newcastle made just one senior signing in the summer – Loic Remy joined on loan from Queens Park Rangers – and there were fears the club’s squad would again be found wanting.

However, United – who face Stoke City at home on Boxing Day – have been relatively untroubled by injuries.

And the impact substitutes Shola Ameobi and Hatem Ben Arfa made off the bench in Saturday’s 3-0 win over Crystal Palace underlined the options available to manager Pardew.

Ameobi won the late penalty converted by Ben Arfa, who hasn’t started a game since late October.

Defender Santon is himself being pushed hard by Massadio Haidara and Paul Dummett.

“It’s not just about the 11 players who start,” Santon told the Gazette. “I think we have a very good bench.

“I’m happy for Ben Arfa. He came on, played well and scored. We have got fantastic substitutes.

“We’re in good shape now. We have good confidence.

“Everybody is together. That’s what makes us strong.”

The Palace result kept Newcastle ahead of Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United in the table.

But Santon isn’t unduly concerned about how the teams around United in the table are faring.

The 22-year-old Italy international added: “We’re really pleased about that, but we don’t have to look at the other teams.

“We just have to think about us – we have to keep winning.”

While the likes of Loic Remy and Yohan Cabaye have dominated the headlines for their goalscoring, United’s defensive record also stands up to scruntiny.

Newcastle have kept six clean sheets so far this season, the latest coming at Selhurst Park.

“We dominated the game,” said Santon. “We had the chances to win the game, and we took them.

“We deserved to win. We kept a clean sheet, so everybody is happy. We defended well together.

“Now we’re looking forward to the next game against Stoke.”

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