ALAN Pardew’s determined that Newcastle United book their place in the Europa League’s Round of 32 – sooner rather than later.
And Pardew – whose side top Group D with three games left to play – will field a strong team against Club Brugge at the Jan Breydel Stadium tonight.
Fabricio Coloccini and Cheik Tiote – suspended in the Premier League after their respective dismissals – will both start.
Pardew also confirmed at yesterday’s pre-match press conference that Shola and Sammy Ameobi will both make history by becoming the third pair of siblings to start a competitive first-team game for the club.
Brugge made life tough in the game between the two sides at St James’s Park a fortnight ago – United winning 1-0 thanks to a second-half goal from Gabriel Obertan – and Pardew’s predicting a difficult game, despite the poor domestic form which cost manager Georges Leekens his job last weekend.
“They’re a tough team,” Pardew told the Gazette.
“They have three or four outstanding players in their team, as you’d expect from a side that are expected to win their league.
“They’re having a rough patch, but when you have great players that can produce, we have to be on our mettle and make sure we deliver.”
Coloccini, sent off in Sunday’s 1-1 draw against Liverpool at Anfield, will lead Newcastle, while Tiote – who serves the last game of his three-match ban on Sunday when West Ham United visit St James’s Park – will also start.
“We have a strong side playing, and a win will guarantee us qualification,” said Pardew.
“It’ll be a team that I hope can win. There are one or two youngsters in there, but they deserve their chance.” On Coloccini and Tiote’s involvement, he added: “Cheik looked really bright (yesterday in training). These games are a godsend. Now Fabricio comes into that category.”
Pardew left behind injured trio Danny Simpson (shoulder), Demba Ba (shin) and James Perch (thigh), while Hatem Ben Arfa and Jonas Gutierrez have been rested.
United have games at home to Maritimo and away to Bordeaux to play after tonight’s match, which is expected to attract a crowd of around 18,000, including 2,600 from Tyneside.
Many more Newcastle supporters have travelled without tickets, and a large screen, which will broadcast the game, has been erected in the Market Square in Bruges.