Alan Pardew believes a long Europa League run can still make this a great season for Newcastle United. The club have struggled in the league, and have had poor fortune with injuries, but now look to be on the up after a string of good signings in January.
One of those brought in was Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, who Pardew has confirmed will start tonight against Metalist. The defender says he already feels settled at the club, and wants to shine over the rest of the season.
Other new signings Moussa Sissoko and Massadio Haidara have both also been included in the squad, with Davide Santon rested. Yoann Gouffran and Mathieu Debuchy are ineligible for the tournament, whilst Alan Pardew has said he will not rush Hatem Ben Arfa back for the game.
The indications are that Newcastle will field a slightly weakened team for the match in the Ukraine ahead of the Premier League game with Southampton this weekend, but on HITC this week we look at the reasons why the Magpies should be playing a strong as team as possible in the Europa League.
Whilst Hatem Ben Arfa will miss tonight’s match with Metalist Kharkiv, Alan Pardew has confirmed the French player is close to returning to the first team, with a bench role against Swansea in two weeks a possibility. Ben Arfa said earlier this week that he still has time to “catch up” with Lionel Messi, with injuries in his career so far stifling his development.
In homage to their impressive French contingent of players, Newcastle have designated this Sunday’s match with Southampton as “French Day.” Newcastle signed a plethora of excellent new French players in January, although as Mathew Nash explains on HITC, Florian Thauvin decided against joining the Gallic revolution at St James’ Park.
Despite attempting to leave the club in January, Fabricio Coloccini has insisted he is fully committed to the Newcastle cause. The defender now wants to move on, and would love the club to go far in the Europa League:
“Of course, all of us would love to go to the Europa League Final and win it, but we can only afford to take things step by step for now.”