Premier League

Hughton has faith in signings

Share This Story

   
 

Wed, 13 Feb 2013 17:04:00

Mathieu Debuchy will sit out the first leg of Newcastle's Europa League last-32 encounter with Bordeaux as he has already turned out for Lille in continental competition this season.

Yoan Gourcuff is also ineligible having already represented Bordeaux, but he picked up an injury against Tottenham on Saturday and would have sat the tie out regardless.

Hatem Ben Arfa (knee) continues to work his way back to full fitness, but fellow midfielder Sammy Ameobi is out with a hamstring problem.

Metalist are in the middle of a winter break in the Ukrainian League and have no real injury concerns to contend with.

They were held to a 1-1 draw by Whitley Bay in a friendly on Sunday night and will hope that encounter has blown away any cobwebs.

It is possible that Metalist will have up to 10 South Americans in their starting XI at St James' Park, with Brazilian forward Cleiton Xavier their top marksman.

Latics are currently second bottom having not won a league game since December 29 and Roberto Martinez decided to take his side for some training abroad having reaped the benefits in previous seasons.

Some fans were angered by the photos and Caldwell since has admitted that it was a bad move for the pictures to be posted online, saying that the players are fully focused on keeping Wigan up.

"Obviously, you need your downtime but we realise that one or two pictures of players lying by the pool that appeared on Twitter may have come across as disrespectful to our supporters and so we have decided ourselves as a group to take them down to avoid confusion.

"I can assure each and every one of our fans that the players are totally committed and focused on the fight to keep our club in the Barclay's Premier League.

"The fans have been different class all season, as they have been since I came to Wigan. We are all fighting together, fans and players, for the good of our club and I'm sure we will continue sticking together in the crucial weeks and months ahead."

The 51-year-old has spent the campaign trying to manage the twin demands of domestic and continental competition while also coping with an injury crisis which has seen them flirt with the Barclays Premier League relegation zone.

However, returning casualties and an influx of French blood during the January transfer window significantly strengthened Pardew's hand ahead of Thursday night's last-32 clash with Ukrainian outfit Metalist Kharkiv, and Pardew is relishing the opportunity to finally attack the Europa League.

He said: "When we finished last year and we finished fifth [in the Premier League] and I looked at the team, we haven't really had that team to put out at any stage of this competition.

"Even against Bordeaux, I wouldn't say that was my best team, although we played well that night in the home game.

"Now I am back to a team that's very similar to the one I had last year in terms of strength and quality - Yohan Cabaye, Steven Taylor, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Moussa Sissoko - they have strengthened our hand, so for sure we are looking stronger in this competition.

"Hopefully we can get through this tie and if we get through this tie, and hopefully get a couple of favourable Premier League results, suddenly we can really look forward to it.

"But we are obviously going up a level in terms of opposition. No disrespect to Bordeaux, who won our group, but Metalist are a little bit stronger than them and this is a huge test for us."

Newcastle's early exit from the FA Cup means they have no fixture this weekend and accordingly Pardew will field a side which is "the strongest it can be".

That could mean a first start for former Montpellier defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, and while there will be no Yoan Gouffran - who is both injured and cup-tied - or Hatem Ben Arfa, the manager is hopeful of taking a positive result to Ukraine next week.

Newcastle have not lost a home game in Europe in 11 attempts, and were last beaten at St James' Park in this competition by Monaco during the 1996-97 season, some 25 matches ago.

For goalkeeper Tim Krul, the emphasis will be on keeping a clean sheet - something the Magpies have done only once in their last nine outings in all competitions.

Krul said: "The Premier League is our main aim, of course, that's normal, but the Europa League is an exciting league to be in and especially for Newcastle United, it would be great to be in there for a long time.

"Of course, it's a massive game. First the home leg and then away next week, we have to be on top of our game straight away.

"Like you saw yesterday, Juve won 3-0 at Celtic and it looks like game over, so we have to be definitely straight away at the races."

The Canaries were left unsuccessful in their attempts to bring in Celtic's Gary Hooper and Sporting Lisbon's Ricky van Wolfswinkel but Hughton did improve his attacking options with the signings of Luciano Becchio from Leeds and Kei Kamara on loan from Kansas City.

Kamara made an impressive cameo appearance in Saturday's 0-0 draw with Fulham and Hughton believes that the new signings can fire his side to safety.

He said: "This season for us was always going to be a difficult one after last season, but if we can keep chiselling away and, looking at the players who have come in, generally I've been delighted with them.

"I don't like to go back to before I was here, but I think that's been the case every summer over the last three seasons, where there have been a fair amount of additions to the club and, of course, the purpose of that is to try to keep improving the squad."

Hughton is also confident that Kamara will bring something new, saying: "I hope so. He is different to what we've got. Becchio is somebody who needs service in and around the box. We all know what Grant (Holt) gives us inside and outside the box.

"Simeon (Jackson) is a smaller, brighter player that has a little bit of pace and Kamara is one who has that bit of pace as well and he's very, very good in the air but he can also play in a wide position so he gives us a good option right across the front."

The Norwich squad are currently enjoying a break in Abu Dhabi but Hughton insists that his team will be fully committed when Everton visit Carrow Road a week on Sunday.

He said: "How are we going to come out against Everton? I know we're going to have a group of players who will try very, very hard.

"But it is always a difficult thing (after a break). In our game you don't know. You hope we come out firing and playing fantastic football, but these are the things you have to keep working on, week in, week out."

He continued: "If things are not right after one performance you have to strive to make it better for the next one and the next one after that.

"These type of games are maybe slightly different when you come up against the real good sides, but I don't think it is necessarily true to say we seem to raise it even though we have done well against the likes of Arsenal, (Manchester) United or Tottenham."

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by

More than Sports on MSN