Newcastle United boss Alan Pardew confident ahead of Manchester United game, despite punishing Christmas and New Year schedule

THUMBS UP ... Alan Pardew's upbeat about Newcastle's prospects of a high league finish.

THUMBS UP ... Alan Pardew's upbeat about Newcastle's prospects of a high league finish.

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NEWCASTLE United’s players are ready to put their weary bodies on the line tonight to kick off the New Year at home against Manchester United.

The Christmas and New Year fixture list has already taken its toll on a squad which was already depleted by injuries and suspensions.

But manager Alan Pardew is confident his team, which has won just one of its last eight games, is ready for one more heave against Manchester United, held to a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford by the Magpies in late November.

Unlike at Anfield, where they were beaten 3-1 on Friday night, the onus will be on Newcastle to take the game to their visitors, beaten at home by Blackburn Rovers at the weekend on what was Sir Alex Ferguson’s 70th birthday.

“The game with Manchester United is a bit different – we’re at home in front of almost 53,000, and we’ll be expected to put them in their place,” Pardew told SportMail.

Read more of Alan Pardew’s thoughts, plus more reaction in the build-up to tonight’s big game, in today’s Sportmail.