Tonight sees Newcastle resume their European adventure as they welcome Ukrainian side Metalist Kharkiv to St James’ Park for an 8.05pm kick-off.

Alan Pardew has stated he will field a strong side for the clash, meaning the likes of Moussa Sissoko and Yohan Cabaye are expected to start. There will be no place for Mathieu Debuchy though, as the French defender has not been registered for this stage of the competition.

Pardew had the choice of Debuchy or Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa for the final registration period, as only one player who has previously been involved in a European competition (either Europa or Champions League) can be added to the squad. With Danny Simpson still available, Debuchy was overlooked and Yanga-Mbiwa could start tonight.

James Perch is favourite to step in at right-back while Yoan Gouffran will miss out with the injury that ended his involvement at White Hart Lane prematurely at the weekend. The injury – thankfully for Newcastle – is not as bad as first feared and the French striker could return for Newcastle’s next Premier League game, at home to Southampton.

Cheick Tiote is also likely to start his first game since returning from the African Nations Cup, while Vurnon Anita will be hoping for some involvement after being left on the bench for the Magpies’ last two league games.

It’s clear that Alan Pardew wants to get the hard work done in the home leg and rest some of his senior players when Newcastle make the long trip to Ukraine in seven days’ time, meaning the likes of Rob Elliot – who has been a major part of Newcastle’s European campaign – and Gael Bigirimana won’t feature tonight.

As for the visitors, they played out a 1-1 draw with non-league side Whitley Bay last week as they enjoy a Christmas break in native Ukraine. They arrived in England almost a week ago and have watched the defeat against Spurs as they look to get a detailed insight into what they will be facing.

Kharkiv lost their best player during the January transfer window, when Brazilian attacking midfielder Taison joined Shakhtar Donetsk. Taison scored a Marco Van Basten-like volley in the Europa League group stage against Rosenburg and was easily the main threat in the Metalist ranks.

Their squad has a Brazilian feel to it, as many of their flair players come from South America. Striker Marlos, who scored the equaliser against Whitley Bay last week, is also a threat with his typically Brazilian strengths: dribbling and movement.

A win would put Newcastle in a strong position for the second leg and give them a reduced workload ahead of the long trip to Eastern Europe. With Southampton waiting just three days after the second leg, minimal work to do is top of Alan Pardew’s wish list this Valentine’s Day, sorry Mrs P!