Dare to dream, urges Pardew ahead of Newcastle United's Europa League tie against Russian outfit Anzhi (From The Northern Echo)
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Dare to dream, urges Pardew ahead of Newcastle United's Europa League tie against Russian outfit Anzhi
ALAN PARDEW wants Newcastle United fans to start dreaming of European glory by claiming his players are ready to fly the flag for the Premier League.
Newcastle can seal a place in the quarter-finals of the Europa League if they can finish the job they started in Russia when Anzhi Makhachkala arrive at St James' Park tonight.
And Pardew thinks the Magpies have the ability and desire to become only the second English team to win the competition, formerly known as the UEFA Cup, since Tottenham's success in 1984 by building on the goalless draw in Moscow seven days ago.
"We have had a tough season and it would be nice if a few of our fans could think we could win this trophy. I think we can," said Pardew. "You need a bit of luck, things to turn your way, you need little slices, but we have enough quality and enough players fit.
"In the past, in the FA Cup and League Cup this season, we fielded sides that were not good enough. This side is good enough but we are up against some very good opposition."
Pardew clearly believes Newcastle have the players capable of reaching the final of Europa League in Amsterdam in May, but even if they don't he feels it could be the year of the Premier League club.
Liverpool were the last English team to win the competition in 2001, while Arsenal, Middlesbrough and Fulham have all been beaten finalists in the last 20 years.
But with Newcastle, Tottenham and Chelsea all in with a chance of reaching the last-eight of the competition, Pardew is hopeful the trophy which was won by the Tyneside club in 1969 will return.
"I think the three teams in the Premier League can focus on the competition and that has not always been the case because of league titles or whatever," said Pardew.
"The experience that we are all gaining in this competition is helping the Premier League teams now. We have a responsibility for the Premier League and English fans, not just ours, to try to win this competition.
"Whether we have French, Italian, or whatever players playing for us it doesn't matter.
"We represent the Premier League and they are proud to represent the Premier League. We will try to fly the flag if we can."
In an attempt to overcome Anzhi, Pardew has already been in touch with Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers. The Reds faced the Dagestan club twice in the Group stages, losing one to a Lacina Traore goal and winning the other.
Pardew said: "I spoke to Brendan about their two fixtures.
"We have done an analytical study of their games. We know all we need to know about them. That doesn't mean we can stop them.
"They have some outstanding players and have one of the best managers of the last two decades in charge but I still feel confidence we can win. We go in to this with good confidence.
"Brendan was complimentary of their ability and their players in particular.
"He had a couple of warnings and thoughts he felt we could benefit from - no more than that."
But if Newcastle are to take another step towards ending their own 44-year trophy drought then they will have to overcome Anzhi without French winger Hatem Ben Arfa.
Pardew said: "Hatem is not going to make the game. A specialist is looking at his hamstring problem and we will probably know more on Thursday.
"He had a slight little strain and we're just checking it, it's no worse than that."
"There is a chance he could be involved as early as Wigan. The alarm bells are not ringing on that front. But the team is in a great place anyway - and we can beat them without him."
Italian full-back Davide Santon is ready for tonight's challenge and backed up his manager's belief that Newcastle can deliver in the Europa League.
Santon made no attempt to disguise his disappointment at the club's failure to stay in touch with the Premier League's top four for the second year in a row.
But after a January of recruitment at St James' Park, Santon said: "When we started the season we had a really good team but we had some problems because a lot of players were injured.
"In general we have had some new French players and that has been important for us. If we didn't have them we would not be in this position now.
"If we can go to the quarter-finals I think we can win the competition. There are a lot of big teams, we know that, but Newcastle are a big team as well."
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