MIKE Williamson admits that physical West Ham are far from the ideal opponents for Newcastle United after their Europa League exertions, writes MARK DOUGLAS.
United returned from Belgium on Thursday night but are back in action tomorrow against a fired-up Hammers, who arrive on Tyneside with a point to prove.
To add to the mix, Newcastle are missing captain Fabricio Coloccini as well as influential midfielder Cheick Tioté, as he sits out the final game of his domestic suspension.
Williamson has called on United to summon their spirit and secure the result which could be crucial to the progress of their season.
He said: “The extra Europa League games put a strain on things, and we’re obviously going to be missing a few players at the weekend and that doesn’t help. But we’ve got a good squad and we’ve proved we can cope in the past. Colo is a fantastic player and he’s our captain so he’ll be a big loss, but we’ve proved we can cope before and hopefully we can do that again.
“Travelling over to Brugge and then playing in a really tough game is probably not the way you would choose to prepare for West Ham, but that’s what we have to deal with. We’re doing everything right behind the scenes to give ourselves the best chance of being ready.
“We’ve got a great coaching staff that are helping us to recover as best we can. Hopefully, the results should prove that.”
Williamson is relishing the revival of his old training-ground battles with Andy Carroll, who is the subject of much interest as he and Kevin Nolan return to the North East.
“We don’t need reminding about Andy and Kevin – I’m sure they’ll be both relishing the opportunity to come back and play,” he said.
“It will be tough, we know that. But if we can keep our spirit and levels of work-rate as high as they have been, hopefully our passing can come to the fore because that’s our big strength.
“I’ve had some decent battles with Andy on the training ground down the years. Every now and then we would line up against each other and it was always a decent contest.
“It was good fun doing it in training so I just hope it’s as enjoyable if we have to do it for real. It’ll be a little bit more competitive on Sunday, I’m sure, but we both know plenty about each other’s game.
“I’m looking forward to it. As a defender, you always want to test yourself against the best players, and he certainly falls into that category.”