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Competition for places delights Newcastle boss Pardew

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew is delighted with four successive victories in the Premier League which he feels is down to a fully fit squad all battling for selection. There is growing competition for places at St James' Park with Vurnon Anita, Hatem Ben Arfa, Papiss Cisse, Jonas Gutierrez and Steven Taylor all battling to get back into the team. "I have had a few knocks on my door this morning from players who want to play," Pardew said.

"Steven Taylor, Hatem Ben Arfa, Papiss Cisse, Vurnon Anita, Jonas Gutierrez are all not playing at the moment, and they are desperate to play.

"We have got - which we didn't have last year - real competition for places, and that does bode well.

"I have empathy for them, but at the minute, they have got to wait for their chance.

"I wouldn't call them fringe players by any stretch of the imagination. I would class them as first-team players who are actually out of the team at the minute.

"They have an opportunity and, like Williamson has proved, if you get an opportunity, then I will show faith and keep picking the player. Everybody has got an opportunity, an equal opportunity.

"It's the same for Hatem as it is for Steven Taylor, frustrating. Steven came out of the side through injury and now he is finding himself blocked in.

"Mapou has done unbelievably well, in my opinion, and was left out. I was so disappointed to leave him out, and yet in front of him is Williamson, who has been terrific, so it's very, very difficult for players.

"You have just got to hope that the chance comes and you take it, and that's why you have to work hard on the training ground, like we have this morning, with those guys so they are ready and when their chances comes I can show faith in them because the team keeps winning."

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