ALAN Pardew says his Newcastle United team are carrying the flag for England in Europe.
Pardew’s side take on Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala in Moscow tonight.
Newcastle are one of the country’s few teams left in European competition, with Manchester United having fallen by the wayside this week.
And Arsenal are expected to bow out of the Champions League next week.
Pardew’s determined that United – who play the return leg at St James’s Park a week today – outlast their rivals on the continent.
And he will drill this into his players before they run out on the Luzhniki Stadium’s pitch in the first leg of the club’s Europa League Round of 32 tie.
“When you get to next week there’ll only be us, Spurs, Chelsea and Arsenal left in Europe,” Pardew said.
“So in some ways we’re carrying the flag for the country, and that’ll be something I’ll suggest to the players. I think that’ll be a nice feeling to have.”
Meanwhile, Pardew is wary of the Luzhniki Stadium’s artificial playing surface.
The 51-year-old played on the infamous plastic pitches once installed by Oldham Athletic and Queens Park Rangers – and found them hard going.
And Pardew, conscious that the surface won’t suit all his players, is hoping for better luck as a manager.
“I’m going to play a very technical team that I hope copes with this surface,” he said. “Certainly, in my football career I really couldn’t cope with this type of pitch – I’d be left behind by the technical players.
“That’s very much in my thoughts.
“I got absolutely smashed at Oldham. I played at QPR as well a couple of times.
“It’s a different game, but the surface has improved since then. The difference isn’t as big.”