ALAN Pardew’s challenged his fringe players to use Europe as a springboard to his Premier League team.
Newcastle United take on Atromitos tonight in the second leg of the club’s Europa League qualifier.
Pardew made nine changes for the first leg in Greece last week, and a number of those who started Saturday’s league game at Chelsea will again be rested.
Fit-again Haris Vuckic could feature along with the likes of Dan Gosling, Ryan Taylor, Sylvain Marveaux and Gabriel Obertan.
This time last year, Pardew was rotating his squad for the club’s cup tie against Scunthorpe United.
Taylor netted a free-kick in that game, and the versatile player went on to earn himself a new long-term contract after establishing himself in his league side in the early part of the season.
Pardew’s hoping others follow his lead, and use the club’s European campaign to take their claims for Premier League places.
“There’s nothing worse for a manager than to have one game a week,” Pardew said.
“You can only pick 11, and in some ways it’s helpful for me to have these games.
“I can say to these guys ‘come on, then’. It’s a big year for a lot of players at this football club in terms of are they going to play in the first team.
“You don’t want to be a squad player, and that’s the competition there should be.”
Pardew’s priority is the club’s league campaign, with a Champions League spot the ultimate aim, though he feels progression in Europe - and a run in a domestic cup - is realistic, despite a squad which is thin in a couple of areas.
“The Capital One Cup and this competition will play second fiddle to the Premier League and FA Cup, in my view,” said Pardew.
“These are great opportunities for them to show their wares.
“If we were fortunate enough to get to the later stages of the competition, then the profile of it would rise, and so would the standard of our team. I’m sure of it.”
Meanwhile, the draw for the third round of the Capital One Cup is being made tonight after the tie between Leyton Orient and Wolverhampton Wanderers.