Newcastle boss facing a selection headache

HEADACHE ... Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew during the Europa League match against Metalist Kharkiv.

HEADACHE ... Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew during the Europa League match against Metalist Kharkiv.

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ALAN Pardew admits he faces a selection dilemma – at home and abroad.

Newcastle United were held to a goalless draw at St James’s Park last night by Europa League opponents Metalist Kharkiv.

Pardew fielded a strong team against the Ukrainian side – and he knows he’ll have to send out a similarly experienced starting XI at the Metalist Stadium in six days time.

However, Pardew’s also conscious that relegation-threatened Newcastle are in desperate need of Premier League points – and Southampton are at St James’s Park three days later on February 24.

And Pardew has a lot of thinking to do before United take on Metalist in the return leg.

“(Taking a strong team) was going to be in my thinking whatever the result,” Pardew said

“There’s no way we were going to win that game 3-0, no way.

“I knew the opposition were good enough for that not to happen, so we were always going to take a slender lead or, as in this case, no goals scored.

“A score draw takes us through, so that’s some bonus for us to take into the second leg.

“Some of our best moments tonight when Metalist came on to us and on the break, and I think that might be a feature of the second leg, hopefully.”

Asked if Metalist have the advantage, Pardew added: “No, I don’t think they do.

“Looking at the game, it was a very even game – but it will be a different game in their stadium and a different agenda.”

Midfielder Yohan Cabaye found some reason for optimism ahead of the second leg, in a week’s time, after Newcastle avoided conceding an away goal.

“It was a tough game. The important things is we haven’t conceded a goal,” he said.

“If we are doing the right thing away from home, we score, then they have to score two.”