- Europa League
Pardew takes positives from Europa season
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew admits that European football has taken its toll on his squad this season, but would not swap their experience for a higher league position.
Newcastle face arguably their most testing week yet as Benfica head to St James' Park on Thursday with a 3-1 lead following the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final, before Sunderland arrive on Sunday for a Tyne-Wear derby tinged with the relegation concerns of both clubs.
"I've tried to explain to some of the new guys what the derby and the European nights are like when they're as big as this - I don't think they understand me," Pardew said. "But we'll find out tomorrow."
Having finished fifth last season, Newcastle are currently six points above the relegation zone in 13th place with seven games to play, five clear of Sunderland in 17th.
But while Pardew concedes the club's league position has suffered on account of their midweek fixtures, he is adamant that both he and the players have learnt a great deal from the Europa League experience and will be better equipped for future European campaigns.
"We've attacked this competition from day one," Pardew continued. "We entered it with a smile on our face and we set out to enjoy it, and we've certainly done that.
"It has come at a cost in the league, for sure, the injuries that we've sustained have affected our position, but we've come to terms with it recently. We've got better on the Sunday after the Thursday night, and that probably comes from a bit of experience on our staff side, my side and the players' side too on how to deal with that."
Newcastle were unfortunate to leave Lisbon with a single away goal after twice hitting the woodwork in the first leg, but Pardew does not believe the two-goal deficit is insurmountable.
"For us, even if we need two goals with 20 minutes to go I believe we can do it. I think our fans and the way we're finishing games could be a problem for Benfica."