Newcastle boss preparing for tough Europa test
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew is ready for the step up in class as he prepares for Thursday night's last-32 Europa League clash with Ukrainian outfit Metalist Kharkiv. 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."