The 27-year-old has been a constant presence in the back five which has started each of the Magpies' 14 Barclays Premier League games to date this season, a consistency of selection which has proved a significant factor in their fine start.

However, that will all change at Norwich on Saturday with Steven Taylor likely to miss the rest of the season after undergoing Achilles surgery and central defensive partner Fabricio Coloccini battling against a thigh strain following Saturday's 3-0 home defeat by Chelsea.

That has left manager Alan Pardew facing a major selection headache, although the fact that he will be able to rely on keeper Tim Krul and full-backs Danny Simpson and Ryan Taylor will be a source of comfort.

The latter has been delighted with his own form, barring a tough afternoon at Manchester City last month, although he is refusing to take anything for granted.

He said: "I was happy, and then I had a little blip against Manchester City.

"But it's been a fantastic season for me so far and hopefully, that can continue.

"But I am just going to take one game as it comes and not look too far ahead of myself because I know there are players wanting to get into the position I am in and get into the team.

"I can't get too carried away, I can only go to the next game and at the moment, I am very happy."

The right-footed Ryan Taylor, of course, has spent the entire campaign playing at left-back after being drafted in on an emergency basis in the wake of Jose Enrique's departure for Liverpool in August.

After a shaky start, he has eased into the role and has even contributed superb winning goals against Sunderland and Everton to firmly establish himself in the team.

What initially looked like a stop-gap appointment has become a feature of Newcastle's starting line-up, and even Taylor himself admits he did not expect to be playing there 14 games in.

He said: "I didn't expect it, no, if I am truthfully honest, but I didn't see why I couldn't stay in the team if I played well.

"So far, the Gaffer has kept faith in me and we are sitting sixth in the league and everyone is very happy at the minute."

However, things could change this weekend as Pardew comes to terms with the injuries which have torn his rearguard apart.

Pardew has already told James Perch, who replaced Coloccini on Saturday, that he will start and with Mike Williamson only just back in training after a long-term ankle injury and Tamas Kadar short of senior experience, he may otherwise have to be inventive.

Summer signing Davide Santon, like Ryan Taylor, can play in either full-back position and could be handed a first Premier League start, while Simpson has lined up in the middle in an emergency in the past.

After the trip to Norwich, the Magpies face Swansea and West Brom on Tyneside before heading for Bolton on Boxing Day, a run of fixtures from which they would expect, on their early-season form, to take a significant proportion of the points on offer.