Pardew aims to strengthen Magpies squad

Alan Pardew hopes to strengthen his squad going into the knockout stages

Alan Pardew hopes to strengthen his squad going into the knockout stages

First published in National Sport News © by

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew is hoping to head into the knockout stages of the Europa League with a significantly stronger squad than the one with which he started.

The Magpies had already qualified for the next stage of the competition before Thursday night's 2-0 defeat in Bordeaux, which saw the French side retain their place at the top of Group D to secure, in theory at least, a more favourable draw.

Pardew said: "We wanted to qualify, that was the first agenda in this competition, and we did that with a game to spare. I think it would have been difficult coming here if we both hadn't qualified and they played their best team on that pitch."

Pardew fielded an inexperienced side at the Stade Chaban-Delmas with the likes of Davide Santon, Cheick Tiote, Jonas Gutierrez, Hatem Ben Arfa and Demba Ba all left at home nursing injuries and Steven Taylor and Yohan Cabaye on the long-term casualty list.

"It would have been difficult for us because they have got some very good players," Pardew added. "But the bottom line is we have qualified and we can look forward to February.

"I am just hoping that, fingers-crossed, when we come out of the other side of the window, we have got a stronger squad."

Bordeaux, who like the Magpies made nine changes for the game, were in control for much of the contest and after keeper Rob Elliot had made three important saves, took a 29th-minute lead through Mali international striker Cheick Diabate's towering header.

The visitors threatened briefly to drag themselves back into the contest immediately following half-time, but Diabate's second, a cool finish after being played in over the top, secured the win.

Pardew said: "A lot of our young players who we played tonight, I was expecting a little bit more.

"We will have a good look at them now because I don't think the opportunity is going to come around for them again this season unless we really suffer like we did tonight in terms of who was available because I didn't leave anyone behind who was fit."

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