Pards Hopes For Christian's Quick Return

DESPITE praising the performance of young centre-back pairing Anton Ferdinand and Elliott Ward, Alan Pardew admits that Christian Dailly remains a key figure in the squad and is hoping the Scottish international defender can regain fitness soon.

"Anton and Elliott have done fantastically well," admitted Alan. "They coped with one of the best partnerships in the Championship on Saturday and showed tremendous composure in a pressure atmosphere.

"But Christian Dailly is still a key figure in the team and we're certainly hoping he can get back as quickly as possible.

"We really thought he would be fit for the Wigan game, but he strained his calf slightly in the week leading up to the match and we had to leave him behind to get treatment when we travelled to the North West.

"Coming back from a long injury like Christian is doing, it's always likely that you are going to pick up small little niggles. That's exactly what is happening to Christian, except he's picked up two now, first his thigh and now his calf, which is worrying.

"It's difficult to say when we'll have him back, simply because of the nature of his injury and the fact that he hasn't played since September.

"But Christian is desperate to play and help the team over these last seven games. It's possible we could have him back in time for Saturday's home game at Coventry, but it all depends on how he responds to treatment.

"We'll monitor his progress this week and just see how things go for him."

Meanwhile, defender Malky Mackay is expected to be out for another two weeks with a calf injury.