Newcastle Utd leave behind stars for Atromitos tie

Newcastle United Manager Alan Pardew
Newcastle United Manager Alan Pardew

DEMBA Ba and Cheik Tiote were among the players left behind on Tyneside today when Newcastle United’s squad left for Greece.

United manager Alan Pardew and his team flew to Athens this morning ahead of tomorrow night’s Europa League qualifier against Atromitos.

And Ba and Tiote - who Pardew hopes will be fit to face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday - were among those left out of the squad.

Pardew had hoped to involve Haris Vuckic and Shane Ferguson in the tie, but the pair - who have minor injuries - have also stayed behind on Tyneside.

However, Pardew will still field a radically different side to that which beat Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday, with new signings Vurnon Anita, Gael Bigirimana and Romain Amalfitano among those vying for starts.

Steve Harper is set to start in goal, and Mike Williamson and Ryan Taylor are also expected to feature.

And teenage striker Adam Campbell – who netted a hat-trick against Spurs in the Professional Development League on Saturday – is also in the squad to gain valuable experience of travelling to a European tie.

“We’ll go there having to make enforced changes,” said Pardew. “That’s a shame, as we were hoping to give some of our younger players a chance.

“But we’re still buoyed by the Spurs result, and we have to get on with it. One or two new players will be involved.”

The prize for the winner of the two-legged tie - the return is at St James’s Park on August 30 - is a place in the Europa League’s group stage, and Pardew admits he would settle for a draw at the Peristeri Stadium.

“We go there, and we’d probably be happy to get a draw, but maybe we can get a win,” added Pardew.

“That’s the challenge. If we could get a win, it would make life a lot easier.”