NEWCASTLE United are ready physically – and just as importantly mentally – for Anzhi Makhachkala.
That’s the verdict of manager Alan Pardew ahead of tonight’s Europa League tie at St James’s Park.
The two clubs played out a goalless on the Luzhniki Stadium’s artificial surface last week.
And Newcastle are just 90 minutes away from a place in the competition’s quarter-finals.
United – buoyed by an upturn in Premier League form which has seen the club pull away from the relegation zone – are relishing the challenge.
“I genuinely have a good feeling,” Pardew said.
“I think that we’re in good shape for it. We’re in the best shape as far as confidence and players available is concerned.
“We couldn’t be going into this in a better frame of mind, but they’re quality opponents. They are certainly on par with a top 10 Premier League team, for sure.
“But I have a strong team – make no mistake.”
Newcastle overcame Stoke City at St James’s Park on Sunday thanks to a dramatic injury-time goal from Papiss Demba Cisse.
And Pardew admits the club’s season, which was faltering badly before the turn of the year, has been a rollercoaster of emotions.
“The contrast of emotions could not have been more evident than in the last five minutes of the Stoke game,” he added.
“It was 1-1, and it was the last result we needed – then we got the winner. That’s why football is such a beautiful game.
“It disappoints you when you least expect it, and it lifts you when you’re expecting a down day.”
Meanwhile, Hatem Ben Arfa – who played up front in the first leg – is out of the game with a hamstring problem.
However, the forward – who has been referred to a specialist by United – could be involved in Sunday’s game against Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium.
“I don’t think it’s a worry,” said Pardew. “We have to err on caution, though.
“The boy’s erring on the side of caution. If he’s doing that, then we must too. We are not going to push him in.
“He makes a big impact, and he can still do that this season.”