Pardew worried by Newcastle form

Alan Pardew returned to former club Southampton on Sunday. Photo: PA

Alan Pardew is "worried" by Newcastle's recent poor form and their chances of a returning to winning ways at Stoke on Wednesday.

The Magpies have struggled to cope with domestic and European exertions this season, which was epitomised by Sunday's defeat at Southampton.

The result leaves them 14th in the table and just four points off the drop zone heading into this week's trip to the Britannia Stadium.

While manager Pardew can call upon captain Fabricio Coloccini after suspension, he will be without Hatem Ben Arfa, Yohan Cabaye and Shola Ameobi once again.

"We're worried, of course we're worried, because we are Newcastle United and we've really got that dressing room to take into Wednesday night," he said.

"It's not like we can add four or five players from the squad into that group.

"That is our group and they have been soundly beaten and are going to another tough place.

"We have three days to try and lift the team to try and get ready for another tough game."

It is a game that Pardew hopes the Newcastle fans turn up in force for after more than 2,000 came down to St Mary's yesterday.

"I am looking forward to the next game and hopefully performing better for our fans," Pardew said.

"They came a long, long way and they are the greatest set of fans in the country, in my opinion.

"Perhaps we need them more than we did last year because the team really needs a lift."

While Pardew is left scratching around for a victory, Southampton will be looking to make it three successive wins against Norwich on Wednesday.

After a miserable start to the season, the newly-promoted Saints are beginning to find their feet and yesterday secured their first clean sheet of the season.

"It was good for the team because they work so hard on the training ground," manager Nigel Adkins said of the shutout.

"I thought we played well for a large majority of the season but we have been punished in a big way defensively.

"The lads work hard and there is a growing resolve about the players, a real maturity. You could see that was a good defensive performance yet again."

Saints also impressed at the other end, where Gaston Ramirez shone in an impressive forward quartet which also included Adam Lallana, Jason Puncheon and Rickie Lambert.

"Obviously you've got to get used to it all," Adkins said of Ramirez, who joined from Serie A outfit Bologna in the summer.

"Gaston missed the start of the season as it was before he signed and then he got injured.

"He hasn't lasted the full game today but when he was on the field of play he was exhilarating."