Alan Pardew has urged Roy Hodgson to consider calling Steven Taylor into his England squad. The Newcastle United centre-half has been in fine form since returning from a long-term hamstring injury and shone against Peter Crouch as his side beat Stoke City 2-1 at St James' Park.
"Steven Taylor's was an immense performance," said the Newcastle manager. "It was England standard. They need to look at him at centre-half. It's a problem position for England but Steven was immense against Crouch."
The win leaves Newcastle nine points clear of the Premier League bottom three and Pardew free to concentrate on Thursday night's Europa League last-16 second leg at home to Guus Hiddink's Anzhi Makhachkala. With the score 0-0 from the first leg in Russia he is prioritising that game over Sunday's league trip to Wigan.
"Thursday is the most important priority for me this week. It's more important than Sunday," said Pardew, who hopes Hatem Ben Arfa, sidelined against Stoke, will be fit to play some part against Hiddink's side. "I will play my best team against Anzhi. We could have a really special night here on Thursday."
Newcastle's manager enjoyed another fine midfield performance from Yohan Cabaye, whose "world-class" free-kick levelled the score after Jonathan Walters' penalty had given Stoke the lead.
"In the second half of the season Yohan's been the outstanding player for us," he said. "We had a mountain to climb after a tough Stoke side took the lead against the run of play."
It was not until stoppage time that Papiss Cissé won the game. "Papiss would be the first to tell you that he was awful today," said Pardew, referring to the Senegal striker's unfortunate habit of being caught offside. "But then the moment comes and he took a chance most strikers would snatch at. That's not easy to do in the 92nd minute, trust me."
Suddenly struggling, Stoke have now won only one of their last 24 away games. "I'm distraught about the result but not the performance," said Tony Pulis, who believed his side should have been awarded a first-half penalty when Davide Santon appeared to foul Ryan Shotton in the area. "In many ways it's been the story of our season. We either shoot ourselves in the foot or fate conspires against us."