Alan Pardew

By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter

They may not be one of the biggest names in European football just yet, but Metalist Kharkiv could go on to become a fixture in continental competitions for many years to come according to Newcastle manager Alan Pardew.

He just hopes that the Ukrainian side's name isn't in this year's Europa League for much longer, with his side facing them over two legs in the round of 32 - starting with Thursday night's home tie at St. James' Park (kick-off 8.05pm).

United won the Fairs Cup - a pre-runner to the current tournament - in 1969 and have played a total of 128 games in Europe, while this is only Metalist's seventh European campaign.

But their league rivals Shakhtar Donetsk won the competition in 2008/09 and Pardew said: "We're up against a new name in terms of European football - and it's a name, I think, that's going to stick around for a while.

"It's a good platform for them but we don't want to be the victims of that.

"We're an old name, a legendary name in some ways in competitions in Europe, and we want to keep it that way and make sure we renew our reputation."

The Ukrainian Premier League is currently on a winter break, with Metalist Kharkiv in fourth place after 18 games, but Myron Markevych's men have been maintaining their match fitness with a series of friendly games.

Most recently, they took on Northern League Division One side Whitley Bay at Hillheads, drawing 1-1 against the part-timers, but Pardew saw enough to know that they will pose a genuine threat.

"We were there on Sunday and they played very well at a difficult venue," he said. "They have a large influx of South American players who give the team a real characteristic of technique and that's probably what we're going to have to come up against.

"They're very good at keeping the ball and keeping it away from us, and will probably take our tempo out of the game, so that's their strength and on the break they're fast.

"So we need to be on our guard. As Juventus proved at Celtic, you have to be very clever in how you attack."

Tickets are still available for Thursday's game, and can be purchased by clicking here