Both Pardew and Leekens say championship is priority

By | October 25, 2012

If Newcastle United were playing Club Brugge in, say, the last eight of the Europa League, there would be excitement in the air. That’s not the case though and it’s likely that both teams will be taking one or two feet of the accelerator tonight. Pardew has said that Newcastle have been approaching the competition with energy and a smile – emphasis on the latter, one assumes – while Leekens has insisted that Brugge have not gone (to England) for a holiday, but that the championship remains priority.
Club Brugge are top of the Belgian League but their form has been spasmodic of late. They’ve drawn two and lost one of the last three and only remain top as Anderlecht had shoddy form in September. They’ve missed Israeli forward Lior Refaelov though and his return could help. Furthermore, Colombian striker Carlos Bacca has been scoring frequently and could be a danger if Pardew decides to field some reserve players in his back four.
For Newcastle, Cheick Tiote (ex-Anderlecht) will be patrolling midfield and he’s been reminding his team-mates that Club Brugge are a big team. Tiote’s suspended in the Premier League so he’s sure to play tonight; that’s not the case for Yohan Cabaye and Hatem Ben Arfa , who could both be benched ahead of the visit of Romelu Lukaku and his Baggies’ colleagues on Sunday. Ex-Mouscron hit-man Demba Ba could also be left out and it might be a rare opportunity to see the brothers Ameoli combine for the Geordies. Seats still left apparently.

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