Pardew demands flair men step up
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has challenged his flair players to plug the yawning gap left in his team by Loic Remy's injury, starting against Crystal Palace.
The on-loan France international will be missing with a calf problem once again as Palace arrive at St James' Park, denying Pardew his 13-goal leading scorer.
Remy's absence at Fulham last weekend coincided with a toothless display in a 1-0 Barclays Premier League defeat, with Papiss Cisse passing up two glorious chances to end his personal drought.
However, Pardew is hoping the likes of Cisse, the fit-again Hatem Ben Arfa, Luuk de Jong and Yoan Gouffran can take up the slack this time around as he contemplates a summer overhaul of his striking department. Remy is on loan from QPR.
Pardew said: "It's a major point for us because obviously Loic Remy is not our player and he has scored most of our goals, and we are struggling to score goals without him, especially since [Yohan] Cabaye left as well.
"It really is a process where we are looking for somebody to step up and get the goals.
"There will be no Loic this weekend, so we really need Papiss, Hatem, Luuk and Gouff to come up with the goals."
Newcastle have become increasingly dependent on Remy's goals - the last game they won in which he did not score was at Palace on December 21 - and with the frontman likely to miss the next two at least, they need to find a solution.
However, Pardew is adamant the Magpies have quality throughout their ranks.
The 52-year-old said: "We are definitely not a one-man team, but he has given us a little bit of a spark. That's what was missing at Fulham, that spark, and we need it to come from other areas.
"We have some real flair in the squad. When we were on the terrific run, some of our flair players were not involved so much, like [Sylvain] Marveaux and Hatem, but now might be an opportunity for them."
Meanwhile, Palace manager Tony Pulis also wants his side to become "ruthless" in front of goal to secure their Premier League status.
The Eagles are just three points above the relegation zone and having played more matches than Sunderland, where they drew 0-0 last weekend.
Palace have managed just two goals in the last four matches and will be without striker Dwight Gayle, who picked up an ankle injury in training this week, while Morocco forward Marouane Chamakh is still troubled by his hamstring problem.
Pulis accepts if the Eagles are to stay clear of being dragged back into the drop zone over their final nine games, then they need to put that statistic right.
"We have to take our chances when they come along," Pulis said at a press conference.
"The two away games recently, Glenn Murray had a fantastic opportunity at Swansea to put us 2-1 ahead, and then KG [Kagisho Dikgacoi] misses a great chance at Sunderland.
"They are big chances and you have to take those in the Premier League.
"When they come along, you have to be really ruthless and take them.
"We have got to maintain being a very hard-working team and be an organised, disciplined, side but we have got to have the breaks in front of goal."
Palace midfielder Barry Bannan could be included in the squad again following illness, while defender Danny Gabbidon is another hoping to be involved after working on his match fitness.