Newcastle manager Chris Hughton will not take any risks with former England defender Sol Campbell as he nears full match fitness.

The 35-year-old former Arsenal and Tottenham man has spent his first few weeks on Tyneside working to make up for lost time after missing the start of pre-season training as he tried to resolve his future.

Hughton said: "We knew he had to play catch-up, we knew he wasn't at the same level as everybody else. The most important thing, as with everybody, is you have got to make sure they are in decent condition before you play them."

He added: "The last thing we can afford to do with any player is bring them back too soon. We have got to make sure when he comes back, he is there to stay, and until he's up to speed with everybody else, it just makes him that little bit more vulnerable."

In Campbell's absence, Fabricio Coloccini and Mike Williamson are likely to team up at the back once again agaisnt Aston Villa, and they will hope for a quieter 90 minutes than they endured at Old Trafford on Monday night.

The Magpies found themselves under siege on their return to the Barclays Premier League as last season's runners-up Manchester United threw down the gauntlet with a powerful display which saw them cruise to a 3-0 victory.

The Magpies were unbeaten in 25 league and cup outings on their own pitch last season - they won 20 of those games and drew the other five - and that provided the foundation for their Championship title success.

Hughton is well aware the challenge will be much tougher this time around, but he is banking on home advantage counting for something once again.

He said: "We are very, very aware of how difficult and how tough this Barclays Premier League is and we have got to make sure we know where we can get our points. We have to know where we can be strong and of course, we were very strong at home last season.

"It will be a little bit different this season because of the quality we are up against, but we have got to make it a very difficult place for teams to come."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

Topics:
#Tottenham Hotspur
#Arsenal
#Championship
#Mike Williamson
#Premier League
#Fabricio Coloccini
#Newcastle United
#Sol Campbell
#Manchester United
#Aston Villa
Flag article