Perch happy as unsung hero

Magpies midfielder content to keep establishing first-team place

James Perch: Content with his unsung hero role

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Newcastle midfielder James Perch is happy to continue being an unsung hero as his side upset the regular Premier League top-order.

The Magpies have had an interesting week as manager Alan Pardew was linked with the vacant England manager role, while big-money signing Papiss Cisse scored the winning goal on his Newcastle bow against Aston Villa.

Perch, however, has remained calm and focused on his task of establishing a solid place in the side.

The absence of Cheick Tiote in recent weeks has paved the way for the former Nottingham Forest man to consolidate a place in the starting line-up having been brought to the club by Chris Hughton following their promotion to the top flight.

Perch managed to get booked in each of his first five Premier League appearances for Newcastle and admits he found it hard to adjust early on.

Tough

"It was a tough start, a tough first year, maybe, but the gaffer has put his faith in me and put me in the side, and all I can do is try to pay him back by playing well on a Saturday afternoon," he said.

"It's going well. I have only played the last three games or whatever, but it's going well at the minute, touch wood."

"Even though they are a massive loss and great, great players, international players and we do miss them, it just shows that we have got the depth in the squad to handle it."

James Perch

Quotes of the week

Magpies boss Pardew will take his side to White Hart Lane on Saturday to face third-placed Tottenham as they continue to defy expectations.

Newcastle travel to the capital without Yohan Cabaye, who completes his three-match ban, while Tiote is set to represent Ivory Coast in Sunday's Africa Cup of Nations final with Leon Best and Ryan Taylor both sidelined with injury.

However, the response Pardew received from Perch as he stepped up to replace Tiote in midfield has eased his fears and the boss has been impressed with his versatility.

Massive

"If you speak to him, he would probably say he is playing in his natural position, so that helps," he said.

"Bless him, he has had to play at centre-half, right-back, left-back, everywhere for me.

"Centre-midfield is probably his best position. He puts a tackle in, he keeps the ball and has good energy, so he has been important without Cheick in the last couple of games."

Perch was delighted to have been entrusted with the pivotal role in midfield as concerns grew that the Magpies would struggle to register victories with Cabate and Tiote out of action.

"When Cheick went to the African Nations Cup and Yohan was suspended, people maybe feared the worst, 'Who's going to go in there?', and 'Can we still win the games?'," said Perch.

"Even though they are a massive loss and great, great players, international players and we do miss them, it just shows that we have got the depth in the squad to handle it."