For their FA Cup win over Exeter City, McAuley featured for the first time under Pardew, who admitted the 38-year-old could be an important figure in the second half of the season if Jonny Evans leaves.
"Absolutely, I think Gareth has been looking at me with puppy eyes asking when am I going to get a chance," he said. "He's the only senior player I haven't given a game to, but Ahmed (Hegazy) and Jonny had played very well.
"I think this is our fourth clean sheet, defensively we have been sound, so it has been hard for Gareth, but it still shows his level of professionalism to come in and play like that. I know it was Exeter but it was still a very good performance."