CRYSTAL Palace defender Peter Ramage says the reason his former club Newcastle United are struggling at the wrong end of the Premier League is down to injuries to key players.
The 28-year-old came through the club's youth academy in the north east and is a passionate Geordie, but admits it's a bit surprising to see them where they are at present.
"I think they've just had some rotten luck with injuries to key players," he said.
"Players like Hatem Ben Arfa, especially over the Christmas period when a spark was needed.
"Steven Taylor at the back has been missing for periods of the season, plus Yohan Cabaye – these are the top star players.
"I didn't expect them to be down there but I think they've just been unfortunate.
"But from what I've seen of the signings they've made over the past few days, hopefully they can have a strong end to the season and get themselves as high as they can.
"They've also got a run in Europe on Thursdays then coming back to play on a Sunday, so it can takes its toll.
"I know for a fact having been there, the club will be doing all they can to get everybody off the treatment table and finishing as strong as possible on both competition fronts."
So why are so many French players flying in to play their football on Tyneside at the moment?
The likes of Ben Arfa, Cabaye, Gabriel Obertan and Mathieu Debuchy, plus the new signings of Mapou Yanga-Mbiw, Massadio Haidara and Yoan Gouffran this week have bumped up the French contingent further, but Ramage says the Geordie fans won't mind a bit as long as they do a good job in the black and white.
"I don't really know many French restaurants up there!," he joked.
"It's a wonderful place to play and everyone is passionate. Obviously, I'm biased as I'm born and bred there, and it's a place dear to my heart, but it's just a football city.
"When you've got 52,000 people roaring you on week in, week out, it can be a pretty special place to play and it's a big selling factors.
"There's a bit of a language difference between a Geordie and French person!
"They've brought in players that nobody had heard of like Cabaye and Pa**** Cisse, and look at how they've done – long may it continue.
"As long as they put on the shirt and they do the business, I think the Geordie public won't care where they're from."
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