This time next week will see our beloved black and whites making a return to European football! After a five-year absence, Alan Pardew’s men must get past Greek minnows Atromitos to reach the group stages of the Europa League. The first leg is away on Thursday 22nd August and the reverse fixture of this two legged affair takes place on Tyneside seven days later.

According to former Toon defender and Mackem slayer Nikos Dabizas, the Athens-based outfit should not pose too much of a threat to our European challenge, although we must not forget our extremely disappointing exit from the UEFA league after a bizarre 4-4 draw in the second leg of the Inter-Toto Cup against French side Troyes in 2001 at SJP , a game most of us may have erased from recent memory but certainly a game Dabizas will remember well. I doubt very much history will repeat itself this time around and would expect us to ease into the group stages.

However, sustaining our newly found status of being a top 6 Premier League club must be priority this season, key players such as Cisse, Collocinni, Tiote, Ba etc, can expect to be rested for at least the early stages of the Europa League, and rightly so. I’m afraid this competition no longer carries the prestige it once did but what it will provide is a much needed chance for some of the talented youngsters we have on the books to prove their worth.

Alan Pardew has already signalled his intent to use this competition as a stepping stone for the youngsters to gain vital big game experience. The likes of Abeid, Vukic, Fergusson, Amifaltano, Birgimana and Sammy Ameobi are all likely to play big minutes. We have struggled in recent years (Carroll aside) to produce young talent in my opinion (Chopra, Airey, Kadar etc all failing to inspire) but the names above seem to inject quiet confidence amongst the Geordie faithful.

If Newcastle can have a real go at this competition and make it through the first group stages, then maybe we will see some of the bigger names take to the field to push for the silverware our club so badly craves. I see no reason why we can’t reach the latter stages if our youngsters rise to the challenge then who knows what is possible.

By Greg Falcus

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  1. Alfie78

    If our young talent really come to the fore then we could be a bit of a dark horse for the Europa League, its just a shame the CL teams drop into the competition , I don't think it's fair at all. Looking forward to our return to Europe tho , HOWAY THE LADS !

  2. W.V Winnets

    Jolly good piece of writing from your new blogger Mr Falcus, real enjoy his prose and turn of phrase!

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