By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter
For various reasons, Alan Pardew made seven changes from the team which started at Everton on Monday evening for Thursday's Europa League meeting with Maritimo. But after his young side earned a 0-0 draw he declared himself satisfied with the night's work.
Captain Fabricio Coloccini, goalkeeper Tim Krul, defenders Danny Simpson and Ryan Taylor and midfielder Cheick Tiote all missed out through injury, Hatem Ben Arfa was suspended and Papiss Cisse was ill.
And Pardew admitted: "With the injuries that we had before this game, this will probably be the weakest that we've been this season. We've had three or four injuries that have been costly to us.
"Having said that, the performance of the team was outstanding I thought; a lot of players playing their first European game on a pitch which I have to say was of a poor standard for both teams.
"There was a great application and although we had a first ten minutes where I thought we struggled a little, after that we were in control of the game and I'm a little disappointed that we haven't won it with the chances that we had."
Gael Bigirimana, 18, started in midfield while 20-year-old Haris Vuckic and 22-year-old Dan Gosling were also given opportunities to impress alongside Academy products Sammy Ameobi and Shane Ferguson, who were introduced in the second half.
And Pardew purred: "I don't know what Dan Gosling's mileage was tonight but I'd suggest it was over 13 kilometres because he was everywhere. Him and Bigi tonight were terrific in there. Sammy came on and looked like he was going to open the door so we had some real bonuses in terms of those young players.
"Dan's not classed as a young player but he is still a young player and so is Gaby (Obertan). I thought he played well on that right side so I'm very pleased with the experience. Having young Adam (Campbell) here experiencing all the dynamics of this game is invaluable to us.
"You could criticise my selection in terms of experienced players but for these guys, it's massive."