Pardew seeks Lennon advice

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew consulted Celtic counterpart Neil Lennon over Europa League opponents Benfica.

Last Updated: 03/04/13 at 18:12 Post Comment

Alan Pardew: Sought advice on Benfica from Neil Lennon

Alan Pardew: Sought advice on Benfica from Neil Lennon

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has consulted Celtic counterpart Neil Lennon over Europa League quarter-final opponents Benfica.

The Magpies travel to Estadio da Luz for Thursday's first leg - and Pardew has been taking advice from Lennon, whose Bhoys played the Portuguese giants in the UEFA Champions League.

Celtic drew 0-0 with Benfica at home and lost 2-1 away, and Pardew said: "We have good contacts regarding this team. I know this city quite well and I have some contacts here who know Benfica well.

"There is also Neil Lennon who we have been in contact with. I think it is important to get as much information as you can - as I'm sure Benfica have done with us.

"It is a big test for us because I think with any team that is on such a roll as Benfica, it is going to be difficult," Pardew added. "They have great momentum and that confidence breeds its own success.

"But I think at St James' Park we can beat anybody - we have no doubt about that game. Here, we need to put on a performance so we can take something back to give us a chance (in the second leg).

"It will be difficult to contain them if we come here just to defend. I think both teams are good in possession and therefore, that will be a key element."

Pardew admits it is difficult to put thoughts about Newcastle's Premier League predicament to one side at the moment, but insists his injury-depleted team are capable of doing well both domestically and in Europe for the rest of the season.

"It is not easy to forget about, because we are in a position where pressure is on us," Pardew said. "We acknowledge that pressure and it is something we have to address in Premier League games.

"But we have had some criticism for not taking the Europa League seriously, and then there have even been a couple of suggestions that we are now taking it too seriously, regarding our Premier League position.

"We have tried to enter every game to win it. My team is a strong one, which has the confidence to progress in this competition - good as the opposition are - and the quality to ensure our safety in the Premier League, regardless of the injuries we have had."

Pardew has selected as strong a squad for the match as he could. Two players who sat out last weekend's Manchester City loss, Cheick Tiote (hamstring) and Massadio Haidara (knee), are missing from the 19-man group, along with expected absentees Fabricio Coloccini (back), Hatem Ben Arfa (hamstring), Mathieu Debuchy and Yoan Gouffran (both ineligible).

But defender Davide Santon, sidelined against City by a thigh problem, and goalkeeper Tim Krul, out for the last seven games due to an ankle injury, have both been included, with Pardew today indicating the latter will go straight back into the starting XI.

He said: "I personally think he is one of the top goalkeepers in the world. This is a great opportunity for him to come back as the number one ahead of Sunday (when Newcastle host Fulham in the Premier League)."


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