Alan Pardew on the hunt for a playmaker after James Morrison suffers injury set-back
Alan Pardew is redoubling his efforts in signing a creative midfielder in January after James Morrison suffered a set-back to his recovery.
The 31-year-old has been out since September with an Achilles problem, but Pardew had initially hoped he would be available for the home game against Brighton next weekend.
However, Morrison has not made enough progress to be considered for that match and remains sidelined for an indefinite period of time.
“He won't return for Brighton," said Pardew. "He hasn't really progressed how we would have liked.
"It's a very awkward injury that restricts you from training – more or less from doing anything – because your Achilles has to go up and down with your leg.
“He's important to us though and we're doing everything we can to get him back."
Pardew has already lost record signing Nacer Chadli until March and Matt Phillips is missing this weekend's FA Cup clash against Exeter City after tweaking his hamstring in the warm-up against West Ham.
It's hoped Phillips will return for the Brighton game, but the dearth of creative players has encouraged Pardew to wrap Chris Brunt in cotton wool so he doesn't get injured too.
And now he desperately wants to bolster his playmaker options during this window.
“With Brunty at West Ham we couldn't really afford to risk losing him for any length of time," said Pardew.
“That's the other impact that you have got to understand. If you've only got one or two creative players you become more protective about those.
“If you've got four or five then you can take risks. Unfortunately we're not in that position and that's the big area about this team that worries me, the lack of creative force of it.
"I look at this team and it needs fresh faces. Something in the changing room or on the pitch."
Pardew is targeting strikers and attacking midfielders in January but only wants players who are going to drop straight into the starting line-up.
"The level of the player is the question, there’s no point in doing any business if it’s not going to impact the first XI," he said. "If there is finance it needs to be one we can afford and can impact the team. That creates a problem in itself."