MIKE Williamson says he’ll never tire of pulling on a Newcastle United shirt.
The defender started the season out in the cold at St James’s Park.
But Williamson was back in the heart of the club’s defence long before the winter set in on Tyneside.
And the 30-year-old, preparing for tomorrow’s game at Hull City, has been one of Newcastle’s most consistent performances during a frustratingly inconsistent campaign.
Williamson, however, feared his days were numbered at the club last summer.
It took a dreadful 45 minutes at Goodison Park in late September – Alan Pardew’s side trailed Everton 3-0 at the break – for Williamson to be pressed into Premier League action.
He hasn’t looked back since.
And Williamson, a player who learnt his trade in the lower reaches of the Football League, will play every game as if it’s his last, such is the “honour” of representing the club.
“I’ve always said since I’ve been here – whether I’ve been in or out of the team – that I want to put the shirt on as many times as I can,” Williamson told the Gazette.
“It’s an absolute honour to do that – I can’t stress that enough.
“I’m enjoying it more than ever, and I want to play as many games as I can and keep on adding to our performances.”
Williamson’s own performance against Villa was labelled “outstanding” by United manager Pardew.
It was a tackle from Williamson on Christian Benteke that sparked the team – and the stadium – back into life with 10 minutes left on the clock.
“Williamson, I thought, was fantastic against Benteke in the air, who is probably the best aerial attacking player,” said Pardew.
“I thought he was outstanding.”
Williamson – whose form at club level has led to calls for England recognition ahead of the summer’s World Cup finals – will again partner captain Fabricio Coloccini against Hull at the KC Stadium, where the team will be backed by 2,500 supporters.
Fit-again Coloccini returned to the starting XI against Villa at the expense of long-serving centre-half Steven Taylor.
Newcastle, eighth in the Premier League, have 11 games left to play this season.
And Williamson is adamant that the club’s season is far from over – despite the ground lost on those clubs chasing European football by United early this year.
Newcastle’s players are keen to avenge their 3-2 home defeat at the hands of Steve Bruce’s Hull early this season.
“The remaining games are extremely important,” said Williamson, signed from Portsmouth in January 2009 by then United manager Chris Hughton.
“It’ll be a different test, but just as hard as Villa. They came here and took three points, so we want to go there do the same.”
Meanwhile, Newcastle defender Curtis Good, on loan at Dundee United, has been called into Australia’s senior squad for the first time.
Good has been selected for the March 5 World Cup World Cup warm-up game against Ecuador at Millwall’s New Den.
“So far I’m loving it,” said the 20-year-old.
“They’re a great bunch of players, and (I am) so happy to be here.
“It was tough to get a first-team look in at Newcastle, so it was a last-minute thing.
“It was a day before the deadline. They called me on the Thursday, and wanted me to come up Friday and play Saturday, so it all happened quickly. When Jackie (McNamara, Dundee United’s manager) called me he said he wanted me to play on Saturday, so I knew they were pretty short at the back.
“It was a matter of trying to fit in as quick as possible really, and straight into the games.
“I’ve been very, very happy with the (standard of the) Scottish league.
“I hadn’t known much about it, I hadn’t watched much of it, but when I came here, especially Dundee, they try and play as much football as possible.”
Good, signed from hometown club Melbourne Heart in the summer of 2012 after a successful trial, had a loan spell with Bradford City last season.