Pardew accuses Young of being Newcastle's 'fall guy'
ALAN Pardew last night claimed Ashley Young was Newcastle's 'fall guy' as his side slipped to a 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa. The Magpies were far from outclassed as they returned to the scene of 2009's relegation from the top-flight, but were beaten by James Collins' first-half header. The centre-half converted Young's floated free-kick, which was awarded for Joey Barton's foul on the England international. The contact between the two players appeared minimal, and Barton was clearly furious at referee Stuart Attwell's decision to blow for an infringement. Pardew stopped short of accusing Young of diving, but clearly felt the Villa winger had made the most of a minor collision. He (Young) is the most fouled player in the division, said the Newcastle boss. We kept saying that if you touch him, he goes over. I think that was in Joey's mind. He hardly touched him and down he went again. That happens to be a fact and I didn't think it was a free-kick. Unsurprisingly, Villa boss Gerard Houllier saw the incident rather differently, claiming Young had clearly been impeded. It was a free-kick, said Houllier. Even the fourth official thought so. Young didn't go down, definitely. The officials have confirmed that. He's a tricky sort of player, he's like an eel. Newcastle will continue to fish for the one more win that will surely confirm their Premier League survival, with yesterday's defeat having left them seven points clear of the bottom three with six games remaining. Three of those games are against Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea, but with the bottom four teams all losing at the weekend, the Magpies remain well placed as the season enters its closing stages. I think we're the same as everyone else, we'd like to have 41 or 42 points to feel a little bit more comfortable, said Pardew. But in terms of results, it's been a decent weekend, putting big, big pressure on that bottom three. Newcastle's next game is at home to Manchester United on April 19, and Pardew is hoping Shola Ameobi will be fit to face the league leaders. The striker was unavailable yesterday after complaining of pain in his knee on Friday morning, and will be sent for a scan today to ascertain the extent of the damage. In his absence, Nile Ranger made his maiden Premier League start, and while the youngster undoubtedly possesses potential, his rawness was all too apparent. Shola had a little swelling on his knee, so we're going to scan him, said Pardew. It's important he comes through that. Nile is learning his trade and at times he stretched Villa. At other times, his link-up play could have been better, and that's one of the main areas he has to work on, but this guy is going to be a threat in this division in the next couple of years, for sure. Nevertheless, in the absence of Ameobi and suspended duo Kevin Nolan and Cheik Tiote, the lack of depth in the Newcastle squad was clear to see. I don't want to harp on because we've given a committed display, but I feel that's something we have to look at for next year, said Pardew. We don't want to be in this position next year. The squad looks small and it counted. We needed senior players to come off the bench and affect the game. We weren't playing particularly well, but I didn't have a great deal of options. I had three young boys who are learning their trade, they could bring on (Robert) Pires, (Nigel) Reo-Coker and people like that. That's what we should be bringing on and it was costly for us.
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