Newcastle back Emre over racism allegations

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Newcastle are standing by their midfielder Emre as he fights to clear his name over allegations of racism.

The 26-year-old Turkish international was charged by the Football Association last weekend with using racially aggravated language during heated exchanges with Everton's Tim Howard, Joleon Lescott and Joseph Yobo at Goodison Park on December 30. Emre intends to deny the charge and his club will back his claims of innocence.

"The allegations against Emre of racial abuse have knocked him sideways," the Newcastle manager, Glenn Roeder, said. "He is very upset about them and he is denying them all. The club is supporting him and standing by him. But this has nothing to do with his absence from the team at the moment. He has a calf strain and once that clears up, he will be available and up for selection."

The charges against Emre have come as an unwelcome distraction for Roeder and his coaching staff as they attempt to continue their side's recent improvement.

Sunday's stunning 3-2 Premiership victory at Tottenham, with the Turk and the captain, Scott Parker, having joined an injury list which is showing few signs of quickly reducing in length, came as a major boost.

However, no one at St James' Park is taking victory in tonight's FA Cup third-round replay against Birmingham City for granted after seeing victory snatched from their grasp at the death in the original tie. Steve Bruce's side earned a 2-2 draw despite being down to 10 men for the second half after the sending-off of defender Raidi Jaidi for a professional foul.

Elsewhere, the Aston Villa defender Phil Bardsley has hailed the influence of Gary Neville on his career even though the presence of the England right-back has dashed his own chances of becoming a Manchester United regular.

Bardsley has joined Villa on loan for the rest of the season with the aim of playing regular Premiership football. The form of Neville relegated Bardsley to the role of permanent number two at Old Trafford but he hopes the hunger and desire to win trophies shown by the 31-year-old will rub off on himself.

Bardsley, who is expected to make his debut at home to bottom side Watford on Saturday, said: "Gary Neville is one of the best right-backs in the world and when I did get a chance at United I felt I did okay.

"But when you've got a player like Gary waiting to come back after injury or whatever, you know you are going to have to step aside again. That's the unfortunate part of being at such a big, big club like Manchester United but you learn lots of good things and hopefully that will stand me in good stead for my time at Villa."

Bardsley added: "People ask if it is depressing being number two to someone like Gary but I say 'Not at all'. "You want the best for the team and if Gary Neville is the best right-back at United, then so be it.

"He is a fantastic player, fantastic captain and I've no problem with that. He is also one of the players you can learn off.

"He has won trophies left, right and centre so if I can achieve half of what he has, I won't go far wrong. Even now the likes of Gary, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes are still hungry for success.

"That's rubbed off on me. I am hungry. It is nice to have that hunger and drive which helps United to win so many trophies."