ALAN Pardew is backing Gary Mills and Darren Caskey to take Gateshead back into the Football League.
Newcastle United’s manager has sent a good luck message to the Conference club ahead of Sunday’s play-off final at Wembley.
Cambridge United stand between Gateshead and a place in League Two.
And Pardew – who worked with assistant manager Caskey during his time at Reading – is hopeful the team can end the club’s 54-year exile from the Football League.
“My thoughts will be with Gateshead at Wembley,” Pardew said.
“I’ll certainly be sending my regards.”
Pardew – who is keen for Newcastle to forge stronger links with Gateshead – is full of admiration for the job European Cup-winner Mills and Caskey are doing at the International Stadium.
The pair – who took over in September – guided the club to a third-placed finish in the league. Gateshead, on a 14-match unbeaten run, beat Grimsby Town 4-2 on aggregate to reach the final at Wembley, where they are expected to be back by more than 7,000 fans.
“I know that they’ve tried to play the right way, sometimes on tricky pitches,” said Pardew.
“They’ve got themselves in a fantastic position.
“I really hope they deliver the goods and make the Football League.”
Caskey – who started his career at Tottenham Hotspur – played for Pardew at Reading. And the 52-year-old is pleased to see Caskey starting out in coaching.
“I’m actually so thrilled for Darren Caskey, an ex-player of mine,” said Pardew.
“He had the fattest bum of any player I had – he makes Steven Taylor look slim!
“But he was a fantastic technician, and Gary has had a great career himself. They make a good pair.
“I’m absolutely thrilled for the club, and I really hope they do it.”
Pardew has previously loaned a number of players to Gateshead. Paul Dummett, James Tavernier and Jak Alnwick have all had spells at the club in recent seasons.
Meanwhile, Cambridge striker Ashley Chambers – who played for Mills at York City – is wary of Gateshead.
“Gateshead have been fantastic this year, and everyone has been raving about their performances, but I know what their manager is capable of,” he said.