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Thursday, April 4, 2013
Pardew: Toon can pass Benfica test

Kristan Heneage

Alan Pardew has said Newcastle's Europa League task at Benfica is not mission impossible as the Magpies prepare for a tough test at the Estadio De Luz on Thursday.

Their hosts are top of the Portuguese league, but Pardew believes his team can succeed.

"In football, there is never a mission impossible," he told the Journal. "We acknowledge also that it is a tough task for us to come and get a victory here.

"But we can get a good result, and there's a difference because it's a two-legged game and we have a good record in those. But we need to give ourselves a chance for next Thursday."

Pardew had earlier caused a stir in Portugal after claiming Benfica would likely finish between "eighth and tenth" if they were to compete in the Premier League.

Annoyed by his counterpart's assessment, manager Jorge Jesus vehemently objected to Pardew's evaluation of his side, saying: "In terms of budget maybe yes, we'd be between eighth and tenth. But not in quality. We've been in the Champions League - and Newcastle haven't been doing much of that. Even last year we eliminated Manchester United."

Pardew also said Newcastle faced increased pressure in the Premier League relegation scrap after slipping closer to the bottom three following a heavy defeat at Manchester City.

"It's not easy to forget about the Premier League," he said. "Wigan and Southampton winning their home games has put pressure on us. That is something we have to address in Premier League games."

But he insisted: "We are not taking anything over one competition. We try to enter every game to win it."

Newcastle must face the threat Benfica possess without first-team stars Hatem Ben Arfa, Fabricio Coloccini and Cheick Tiote. However, they will welcome back Sylvain Marveux, Davide Santon and Tim Krul.

"Marveaux could have played at Man City, but it would have been a risk," Pardew said. "He will be involved, and Santon is back. That strengthens my hand.

"This is probably the most glamorous and biggest tie I have had. However, that does not mean Fulham [the next Premier League game] is not more important. We have to try to gain two wins."




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