Anita doesn’t want to be frozen out with Newcastle

WORKING HARD ... Newcastle's Vurnon Anita.
WORKING HARD ... Newcastle's Vurnon Anita.

VURNON Anita’s hoping to come in from the cold at a freezing Metalist Stadium tonight.

The midfielder has been a substitute for Newcastle United’s last four games.

However, Anita is a contender to return to the starting XI against Metalist Kharkiv in tonight’s Europa League Round of 32 tie, which will be played in sub-zero temperatures in the Ukraine.

“I must wait for my next chance to play and show the manager that I’m capable of playing,” Anita told the Gazette.

United manager Alan Pardew will make at least one change to the team which faced Metalist at St James’s Park last week.

Defender Davide Santon – who played in the goalless draw – was left on Tyneside to rest ahead of Sunday’s crucial home Premier League game against Southampton.

And the reshuffle could open the door to versatile Anita.

The Dutchman – who can play at full-back and in midfield – impressed in the first half of the season after adjusting to the pace and power of the Premier League.

And Anita – who brought a wealth of European experience with him when he joined Newcastle from Ajax last summer – is pushing hard in training for a start in Kharkiv.

“Everybody has welcomed me at the club,” he said. “I’m enjoying it here. Everybody is very good with each other, and laughs a lot, which is good.

“But as a football player you want to play every game.

“That’s not happening right now, but I keep working hard every training session to show the manager I’m ready to play.”

Anita came to United to play in European competitions, having experienced Champions League football at Ajax.

And the Holland international says Pardew’s players are confident the club can make progress at home and abroad over the coming weeks and months.

However, Newcastle are wary of Metalist, who enjoyed a lot of possession at St James’s Park and threatened Tim Krul’s goal.

“It would be good for the name of the club, and for the players and fans,” added Anita.

“It’s an important game for all of us – I hope that we win and go through to the next stage.

“It’ll be hard with their style of football and fans. It’s going to be a hard game, but hopefully we can win.

“All of the players are comfortable on the ball. They also had a few chances to score. But they didn’t, and it’s our job to finish it.”

At the back of Alan Pardew’s mind is Sunday’s Premier League home game against Southampton, but Anita and his team-mates are solely focused on the challenge facing them in Kharkiv.

“I think for now the focus is on this game and getting through to the next stage,” Anita went on. “Then we think about the next game.”

Anita’s only goal so far in his United career came in the Europa League. He scored a stunning goal in the 2-2 draw away to Club Brugge in November.

Twitter: @milesstarforth