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Brugges invasion can lay the foundations for Newcastle United's Europa League challenge

By Lee Ryder on Nov 6, 12 05:16 AM


Scores of Newcastle United fans were today making the trip to Brugges today as they prepare for the Magpies' Group D clash against the Belgian League outfit knowing that victory will book a place in the last 32 of the competition.

A triumph over the struggling Belgian side - who go into the game manager-less - will ensure a place in the draw for the knockout stages with two matches to spare.

Many wondered just how the Magpies would cope on their return to continental competition.

But it has been so far, so good for Alan Pardew's men.

Perhaps one of the hidden factors behind that success has been the experience of the backroom team Pardew has in his corner.

Under Sir Bobby Robson, John Carver banked a wealth of knowledge when it comes to Euro nights and many of the support staff at the club still have memories of some great nights in competitions like the UEFA Cup and the Champions League.

That combined with Pardew's motivational skills and willingness to use his squad to generate competition for places has meant the Magpies are so far unbeaten.

And but for a slight rocky patch in the opening moments of the play-off game in Athens against Atromitos on night one on a scorching night, Newcastle have never really looked in trouble.

Getting to the last 32 though would mark some real progress.

Of course there is a major advantage finishing first or second in the group with the Champions League teams poised to join the party in the next stage.

But for Newcastle they have the chance to make this a memorable night in Brugges on Thursday and with the chance to field a strong team to boot due to Fabricio Coloccini and Cheick Tiote's likely presence in Belgium.

The luxury of booking their place in the next stage with two games to spare is the real prize on offer at the Jan Breydel Stadium.

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Lee Ryder

Lee Ryder - Proudly born and bred on Tyneside, the Chronicle's chief sports writer has followed the fortunes of the club over the last three decades as a Toon fan and football writer.

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