Alan Pardew has offered words of reassurance to Vurnon Anita, telling him he will get game time, despite the form of fellow midfielders Cheick Tiote and Yohan Cabaye.
Anita could retain his place at the heart of Newcastle's midfield on Saturday as Southampton make the trip to St James' Park.
With Cabaye suspended for the Saints clash, Anita looks set to be given another chance to shine in the Premier League.
Pardew acknowledged the advances made by the 24-year-old and admits he is on verge of causing selection headaches in the midfield ranks.
"I would expect him to make 20, 25 appearances this year and for a second year at a big club that is a good start," Pardew told the Newcastle Chronicle.
"This year, you have to pay tribute to him because he has been a lot, lot better and he is pushing for a place.
Anita's approach this season has impressed Magpies boss Pardew, who hailed the Dutchman's additional work at the club's Benton base.
"It has been good for him because he has made himself stronger in the gym," he added.
"He has had a little bit more time to reflect on some performances last year, where I think he struggled a little bit."
All eyes will again be on Tiote to see if he can maintain the level of performance which helped Newcastle beat defending champions Manchester United last weekend.
"I was very reluctant to take the captaincy from him after he did so well with it," he said.
"He is playing very well. But he has proved to me irrespective of whether he wears the armband or not, he is brilliant."
It was Cabaye who netted the winner at Old Trafford but Pardew praised the contributions of Tiote and believes he is becoming a strong influence after a below-par performance last term.
"I can reflect on the two Manchester United games - the 3-0 win (in 2012) was the best performance he ever gave this football club, closely followed by that performance on Saturday, so he can do it against the top clubs," he added.
"When we drew 4-4 with Arsenal, that day he was unbelievable, so he has had some big, big games for us, don't forget about that."
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