We’ve wondered with our poor form in the league, just what Alan Pardew would do with the Europa League tie against Metalist Kharkiv, and whether he would even give it a go, or do almost a surrender, which is what we did at Brighton, once we saw the team Alan put out that day in the FA Cup third round game.
Alan Pardew - strong side for tomorrow’s first leg
But there’s a big difference now in the squad from that Saturday in early January, and not only do we have Steven Taylor and Yohan Cabaye back in the side after long term injuries, but we have five excellent new French players who joined us last month – and with only 12 league games to go it’s not like we’ll be getting into any fixture pile up either.
Alan Pardew has answered the question as he had this to say on the Newcastle web-site:
“It’s competition we’d all love to win.” “It’s difficult to get through the group stage, make no mistake, so we don’t want that hard work to be for nothing.”
“I’ll be picking a strong side for Thursday. The new lads who arrived last month have given us greater depth, so I’ll take advantage of that with my team selection.”
“Metalist are a good side, you just have to look at the teams they finished above in their group to realise that, so they’ll get our full respect.” “But the last 16 is in our reach and there could be some big ties ahead for us.”
“‘m sure our fans would relish bringing more big European nights to St. James’ Park so we’ll be doing everything we can to progress and deliver that.”
And with the next game being at Metalist Kharkiv a week on Thursday and five days rest from Saturday defeat at Spurs, Pardew could pick his strongest side.
But of course some players are ineligible like Yoan Gouffran, even if he was fit, and Mathieu Debuchy is not included in Newcastle’s European squad – but maybe apart from those – we’ll see a strong side but we think Mike Williamson and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa will play and we expect to see Massadio Haidara at left back for the first time in a Newcastle shirt.
It would be good to get through to the next leg of the Europa League, but Thursday’s result will need to be a good one, because in the second leg in the Ukraine next week, it will be our second team we’ll have to field, with the home game against Southampton on the following Sunday.
Let us know how you think the game will go on Thursday.
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