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Dec 21, 2012

Beresford: Toon must stay strong

Former Newcastle defender John Beresford believes the club must name their strongest XI when they face Metalist Kharkiv in the Europa League knockout stages.

The Magpies are currently struggling in the Premier League, but Beresford believes that the club must avoid resting key players and seize the chance to win one of Europe's premier competitions.

"They worked so hard last year to get to this situation, they must play their best team that's how I see it," he told ESPN. "The league will take care of itself. They had a nice draw in the group stages with the likes of Bordeaux, so don't waste it now. We've been waiting so long to win something, what a great opportunity to win one of the best cup competitions there is.

"I would hope that they bring a couple of players in during January to give the club and the players a lift. It does make a difference. The league form has not been great and there is major pressure on them. It's a great opportunity going into January because when you're in Europe you will attract the better players. It's a good place now to attract the players.

"I don't think Mike Ashley will spend massive, but I also don't think you need to. You just have to be clever with your signings as they have with the likes of [Yohan] Cabaye, [Papiss] Cisse and Demba Ba. There are players out there, if they can get a couple of bargains they can move on to the next step."

Having previously experienced a trip to Eastern Europe when Newcastle faced Dynamo Kiev in 1997, Beresford admits that the Newcastle players will experience a unique atmosphere and low temperatures when they venture east.

"People talk about the travelling, but when we went to Kiev we had to take our own food. In fact the food we took over was pinched," he explained.

"It was things like chicken and fish and pasta. Where we were staying wasn't the greatest, so just to make sure our pre-match meal was good we brought our own food. I remember coming down and somebody said 'You're not going to believe this'. They put someone in charge of the food and I'm sure he tipped someone off about it.

"Even at the game, it was one of the strangest atmospheres we ever played in because a lot of the army were there supporting Kiev. They were a great team as well with the likes of [Andriy] Shevchenko and [Sergi] Rebrov, but it was freezing cold."

Newcastle host the Ukrainians at St James Park on February 14, before travelling to the Metalist stadium a week later.

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