National Team



Nikos' Opinions

Latest News


Dabizas targets United return

Dabizas targets United return

Nikos Dabizas last night accepted that Titus Bramble's coming-of-age on the Champions League stage has presented him with the toughest challenge of his Newcastle career.

However, the experienced centre-half insisted he is in no mood to warm the United bench as the Magpies prepare for a punishing schedule of four home games in the next 12 days.

The Greek international returns to Sir Bobby Robson's first team squad for the visit of Charlton today after serving the first of this month's two suspensions during Wednesday's visit of Juventus.

Dabizas was bitterly disappointed to miss out on United's most impressive victory of the season and his night was made all the more uncomfortable as he watched stand-in Bramble deliver the most composed performance of his Magpies' career.

"If I don't win my place back then I can't complain," admitted a defender who has become an automatic choice under Robson. "I won't be happy, but very few managers change a winning team. Titus has been waiting for his chance and he took it with both hands against Juve. "I don't have a problem with missing out and, if it happens, I will work even harder to win my place back as soon as possible. But I'm not used to being on the bench and I wouldn't want it to become a habit."

Robson faces a real predicament as he assesses his defensive options, but everything points to Bramble retaining his place against the Addicks. Dabizas' position is made all the more precarious as he is suspended again for the visit of Middlesbrough on Monday week.

And Robson may well decide it would be better to reintroduce his most experienced defender against Everton in the Worthington Cup a week on Wednesday rather than disrupt an inexperienced, but talented, back four. Yet Dabizas is far from downhearted, despite missing Wednesday's epic victory.

He added: "It's inevitable that you will pick up cards throughout a season, but when you're suspended it's always difficult.

"You just have to live with it. I would have loved to played against Juventus, but what could I do about it? It's tough when you're not part of a victory like that."

Although Dabizas may suffer as a result he was, nevertheless, delighted to see Bramble confound his critics with a controlled performance against the reigning Italian champions.

The Magpies' stopper knows all about the pressure associated with wearing a black-and-white shirt and admitted: "It is difficult being a defender at Newcastle United.

"We are, and always have been, a team committed to attack and our fans demand goals. It's the defenders who are criticised when that approach costs us at the back but I wouldn't have it any other way.

"We're under pressure all the time, but I thrive on it and I'd rather play for an exciting team than a side which nobody wants to watch.

"It's been the same since the first day I signed for Newcastle."

The Journal


232 Appearances in England (175 for Newcastle United, 18 for Leicester in the Premier League and 39 for Leicester in the Championship). Total League-Cup-Europe appearances 550. National Team appearances 70. Goals total 40.