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Pardew ponders Luzhniki challenge

Alan Pardew says the artificial surface his team are due to play on against Anzhi Makhachkala will influence his team selection.

The Europa League round-of-16 tie will be staged at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium on Thursday due to security concerns over playing at the club’s Dagestan home.

And Pardew has revealed the pitch, which uses ‘FieldTurf’ technology, will present a challenge to Newcastle and encourage him to field a more “technical team”.

“We want to win the game, so I’ll play the strongest team I can for that game,” Pardew told the Sunderland Echo.

“It’s a different surface, and it’s going to favour some of our technical players. It’ll be a very technical team that I put out.”

Newcastle beat Ukranian side Metalist Kharkiv in the last round, with a Shola Ameobi penalty in the second leg earning his side a 1-0 aggregate victory, but Anzhi will likely present a considerably tougher task.

Boasting star names such as Samuel Eto’o and 30 million-pound Brazilian Willian, as well as the highly experienced Guus Hiddink as coach, the Russian Premier League outfit are favourites to qualify for the next round.

Pardew is aware of the challenge he faces and feels most of the remaining sides have put the Europa League high on their list of priorities.

“It would be massive if we could beat this team, because they’re a really strong side,” he said.

“It’s really now down to where every team left in that Europa League now is focusing on it probably as their primary objective.

“I can’t think of too many clubs in it for whom it’s not at the top of their agenda now.”

Tue 5 March, 2013
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