Alan Pardew

By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Club Reporter

 

Alan Pardew believes United will find it tough to secure an early qualification from Group D of the Europa League on Thursday night, but will send his team out in search of all three points regardless.

Victory away at Club Brugge (6pm kick-off British time), along with Maritimo failing to beat Bordeaux in the other group fixture, will see the Magpies confirm their passage into the competition's knock-out stage with two matches still to play.

And while that would take a considerable amount of pressure off Newcastle during a busy spell of games in the Premier League and Europa League, the boss is not predicting that outcome.

"I would be surprised if we secure qualification on Thursday," he explained.

"Winning here is tough for us. We will enter it to win it, but I think it will be tough.

"But it would be welcome because we have got some tough games coming up.

"Every game is a challenge for us but we are in really good spirits We have had a good couple of weeks and the group is looking forward to another good game."

Meanwhile, Pardew has praised departed Club Brugge manager Georges Leekens, admitting he is pleased not to going head-to-head again with the experienced tactician.

Former Belgium national manager Leekens was sacked last weekend following a run of six games without a win in all competitions.

"Brugge are a good side and I am sad to see the manager go because I really admired him," said Pardew.

"He has been a fantastic manager and when they came to our place he gave us some problems.

"So I'm sad to see him go but in some ways glad that he's not on the bench tomorrow.

"(His departure) is a two-edged sword.

"One, the players may be highly-motivated to prove themselves to the stand-in manager and the manager who may be coming in. They will have a renewed energy.

"But I think the tactical brain not being on the sideline may, hopefully, give us an advantage because Leekens is a tremendous manager and I was sad to see him go."