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Pardew hopes for Europa glory

Alan Pardew believes Newcastle can end a difficult season on a high by landing the Europa League title.

Last Updated: 21/02/13 at 17:11 Post Comment

Alan Pardew: Believes Newcastle are capable of winning the Europa League

Alan Pardew: Believes Newcastle are capable of winning the Europa League

The Magpies have struggled in the Premier League and are still facing a relegation fight in the closing months of the campaign.

But the Europa League offers Newcastle a chance of silverware and their last 32 tie with Metalist Kharkiv is locked at 0-0 ahead of the trip to the Ukraine.

The arrival of January recruits such as Moussa Sissoko, Yoan Gouffran and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa have strengthened Pardew's squad and he feels they are genuine contenders for the Europa crown.

"There's a possibility that this could still be a great season," the 51-year-old said.

"If I look at my best team, I would feel confident putting my best team up against any team left in this competition.

"I've not really had that opportunity. We are a lot stronger now. Therefore if we get through this tie, we have as good a chance as anyone else."

Pardew feels that a string of injuries ruined Newcastle's hopes of replicating last season's strong league form which resulted in a fifth placed finish.

"We have been disrupted this year with a lot of our key players missing," he said.

"Probably this is as strong as I have been with players that I have available. I feel we are a lot stronger than the league position suggests.

"We had a lot of things go our way last year to finish in fifth place, but it was an excellent momentum that we had gained.

"We became a side that was resilient - we haven't got that resilience this year.

"But there is a renewed belief in the squad from the introduction of the new players, particularly [Moussa] Sissoko, [Yoan] Gouffran and Mapou [Yanga-Mbiwa], who will play tomorrow.

"Therefore, our season will be determined by two things: firstly, progression in this competition and secondly, our Premier League position, which I think we can improve dramatically - hopefully."

Hatem Ben Arfa has returned to training after a 10 week absence with a hamstring injury, but the winger is unlikely to feature in Sunday's crucial clash with fellow strugglers Southampton.

"Sunday might be too early for him too, but certainly Swansea, I would be

looking for him to have some sort of cameo role from the bench if he progresses well," he said.

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