Will-power will boost United’s defence

WELCOME RETURN ... Mike Williamson.
WELCOME RETURN ... Mike Williamson.

ALAN Pardew believes Newcastle United’s defence will be stronger for the return of Mike Williamson.

The defender made his comeback in yesterday’s 2-0 win over Bolton Wanderers – and the 28-year-old stood tall all afternoon.

Williamson’s commanding presence helped shore up a back four which had been leaking goals, especially to set-pieces, since Steven Taylor suffered a season-ending injury earlier this month.

While lacking match fitness, Williamson was comfortable alongside captain Fabricio Coloccini in the heart of Pardew’s defence.

Williamson came in for James Perch, who Pardew feels is a full-back or a defensive midfielder.

“With all due respect to Perchie, because he’s done great, Williamson’s a round peg in a round hole,” Williamson told the Gazette.

“He’s a centre-half, that’s his position, and he made a big difference to us. There’s been a lot of criticism about our results, but we haven’t had two centre-halves out there.

“Perch is a midfield player or full-back. He’s brilliant in terms of that, but centre-half is a tough call. Willo came out, and we looked a lot more solid.”

Williamson had played just 45 minutes of reserve football, and Pardew admitted he had a dilemma on his hands given his lack of match practice. However, with 90 successful minutes under his belt, Williamson will be ready for the challenge ahead of him on Friday night at Anfield, where he could be pitted against his former team-mate Andy Carroll.

Pardew said: “When were we going to put him in? He’s only had one reserve game. It was about putting him in and protecting him, which we did.

“The full-backs stayed at home a little bit more, and that helped him.”