ALAN Pardew says he knows Metatlist Kharkiv aren’t messing out on Tyneside – because of their decision to play Whitley Bay!
Newcastle United’s Europa League opponents have arranged a friendly against the non-league club at Hillheads tomorrow night (7pm kick-off).
The Ukrainian side haven’t played a competitive game since early December, with their league on a winter break.
And Metalist arrived on Tyneside this week to start their preparations for next Thursday’s Round of 32 tie first-leg at St James’s Park.
“It shows the seriousness with which they’re taking this fixture to come here a week early and play a local team,” Pardew said.
“I have to admire it, as I don’t think I’d have done it.
“You have to admire that preparation. Whitley Bay’s going to be a tough game, trust me. They won’t be taking it easy. Fair play to them.
“They’ll have three or four ex-players playing. We’ll look forward to seeing them do well.”
United qualified for the Europa League’s knockout stages in late November, and the competition has been far from Pardew’s mind as his side have struggled in the Premier League. With United not having a game next weekend, the focus will switch solely to progression in Europe after this afternoon’s match against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane.
“I haven’t really thought about it because I’ve been concentrating so much on Spurs,” said Pardew.
“Once we get that result out of the way – and the Whitley Bay game is out of the way – we’ll see where we all are.
“I haven’t really thought about it at all because of the problems we’ve had. We’ve got all these players over the line.
“I know we have no fixture in between, which is really helpful. That’s good news for us.”
United added three new signings – Moussa Sissoko, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Massadio Haidara to the club’s European squad once last month’s transfer window closed.
However, Mathieu Debuchy and Yoan Gouffran won’t be available.
The extra options are welcome to Pardew, who fielded significantly weakened teams in the group stage of the competition to protect his keys players from injury.
“We were short on numbers, and that’s going to strengthen us,” he said.