Tim Krul and Davide Santon could return to Newcastle’s starting line-up for their match against Benfica this evening, with the goalkeeper set to feature for the first time since his injury against Metalist Kharkiv. Cheick Tiote, Hatem Ben Arfra, Fabricio Coloccini and Massadio Haidara miss the match through injury, whilst Mathieu Debuchy and Yoann Gouffran are ineligible.
Whilst he is pleased to return Tim Krul had nothing but praise for Rob Eliot, who has stood in for the Dutchman during his injury:
"He has done great, and the thing is, the competition is great for this club.
"It also pushes me to my best. I like to have somebody training with me who is of his quality. So it is good for me and good for the club.”
Alan Pardew has welcomed the matches with Benfica as a step away from Newcastle’s “sticky” form in the Premier League. Newcastle are still only three points above the relegation zone, having been beaten 4-0 by Manchester City at the weekend.
Pardew also said that despite Newcastle’s struggles this season, they will be in an excellent position to do well next year. A combination of injuries and the extra demands of the Europa League have left Newcastle short of options at times, but Pardew believes those issues have now been resolved:
“We got caught out a bit in terms of the size of our squad in the Europa League.
"But we remedied that in January and we will be stronger for this season come next year. We’re in a great position for the summer.”
Liverpool will reportedly still demand £17million for Andy Carroll is any side is interested in signing the striker this summer. West Ham are keen to make Carroll’s loan move permanent, whilst Newcastle apparently also retain an interest in their former player, but both sides would likely baulk at such a high price.
In other transfer news, Newcastle were linked with Lille defender Aurelien Chedjou this week, and on HITC we asked if the Cameroonian could be a replacement for Coloccini this summer? We also assessed their chances in the Europa League this season.