Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has warned his fringe players they must take their opportunity in Athens tonight in the first leg of their Europa League play-off.
Pardew will be without a series of key players for the clash with Atromitos in Greece.
France international Hatem Ben Arfa is suspended after being sent off in his final European game for Marseille in March 2010, while Fabricio Coloccini, Cheick Tiote, Demba Ba and Shola Ameobi all stayed behind with minor injuries, although they are expected to be fit for Saturday’s Barclays Premier League trip to Chelsea.
Shane Ferguson and Haris Vuckic have also missed out, but summer signings Gael Bigirimana and Romain Amalfitano and 17-year-old striker Adam Campbell could get a chance.
Speaking at the Peristeri Stadium last night, Pardew said: “For Atromitos, it’s a big game for them – we are a big scalp for this team, we are under no illusions about that.”
Pardew decided to leave some players on Tyneside as he attempts to juggle the competing demands on his squad.
He said: “We have brought everybody who is fit, actually. The guys who have stayed behind are all injured, of which Demba Ba is one, Coloccini, Cheick Tiote - but I think they will be playing on Saturday.
“We have still got three or four younger players who we would like to have brought, but unfortunately, they are injured too, so the senior group is all here.
“The problem for us is just the scheduling, really – not so much the competition – of this particular game because we play Chelsea on Saturday and the heat and the elements here are going to make it difficult for us, so we have tried to factor in all that. And also to get a result, that’s the most important thing.”
Atromitos finished fourth in last season’s Greek Super League and will be no pushover.
Meanwhile, Pardew revealed he has admitted a FA misconduct charge after pushing assistant referee Peter Kirkup during Saturday’s 2-1 league victory over Tottenham.
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