The Newcastle United midfielder Yohan Cabaye will vigorously contest a Football Association charge of violent conduct – with the help of his alleged victim. The 26-year-old Frenchman was yesterday charged after his clash with the Brighton defender Adam El-Abd during Saturday's 1-0 FA Cup fourth-round defeat at the Amex Stadium with the match referee Lee Probert having taken no action at the time.
However, Newcastle's manager, Alan Pardew, who is facing the prospect of having to do without one of his key players for three games if he is found guilty, is furious that his summer transfer signing has been brought to book. Pardew also said that El-Abd, who said at the time he felt Cabaye should have seen red, has offered to help him clear his name.
Pardew, who was unhappy at the extent to which the incident was highlighted during television coverage of the game, said: "I am absolutely livid about it, if I am honest, because firstly, when the incident happened, I didn't see anything wrong with it.
"After the game, someone said to me the TV coverage, especially the presenter, Ray Stubbs, was so ferocious about it, and I couldn't understand that.
"He had two professionals on that show telling him that the guy was trying to keep the player from tumbling on him. I have reviewed that about seven or eight times and seriously, he is trying to stop the boy falling on him. He does make a gesture to push him away and in doing so, catches him just on the lip.
"If you find that that was a malicious attempt to do that then, my goodness, you have never played this game. I cannot believe that the referee, after the game, has gone back. Now whether this is pressure that he's under, I don't know.
"Yesterday, I had a call from the Brighton coaching team to suggest to me that their player wants to support our player, and I have never had that. We never instigated it, we never asked or put a phone call in to Brighton – in fact, I didn't see [the Brighton manager] Gus [Poyet] after the game, and I must apologise to him for that, because I had to shoot off.
"We have sent our letter in, a strong letter, and we have also, after the contact from Brighton, asked the Brighton player if he would forward a letter to us, which he has kindly done, and that will go in as well."
That would appear to signal a change of heart from El Abd, who said after the game he felt Cabaye should have been sent off.
"I've seen it again and I think it was frustration on his part and he did have a little kick out at me," said El-Abd at the time. "I think it was a sending-off. I think he knew what he was doing as well but that's for the referee to decide. It's part of the game, it's not nice but sometimes people get frustrated."
Cabaye had until yesterday evening to respond to the charge. Had he accepted it, he would have been banned for tonight's Premier League trip to Blackburn and the following two games against Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur. Pardew, who asked to attend the hearing in person to argue his point, is hoping for clemency.
He said: "If we had 18 cameras at every game, you would be sending two or three players off at every set-play because there's contract, trust me, more intended contact than there is with Cabaye's incident.
"I really do think they need to just take a deep breath on this one, have a good look at it. If you asked every Premier League manager about that incident, I would suggest 17 managers would say, 'No way'. The three teams we are playing might say yes, it probably should have, but 17 wouldn't. That's my opinion of it."
Pardew, who will have his captain, Fabricio Coloccini, available after a groin injury, will definitely be without the Senegal strikers Demba Ba and Papiss Demba Cissé for the game at Ewood Park, as a result of their gruelling journey back from the African Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.
He said: "They have got a very, very difficult journey in front of them with the time difference and everything else, and we don't think they are going to make the game: in fact, I have accepted that they won't make the game."
The Blackburn manager, Steve Kean, however, has no new injury worries. His striker Ayegbeni Yakubu is suspended and the defender Ryan Nelson is one step closer to making a return after he trained with the squad today.