Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew is targeting a big first-leg lead in Thursday's Europa League game against Metalist Kharkiv, as he fears the return match in Ukraine could have a detrimental effect on his side's Premier League survival battle.
Pardew's men will face an arduous ten-hour round trip to Ukraine just three days before they take on in-form Southampton at St James' Park on Saturday week, with the Newcastle boss hoping to make the most of home advantage as he looks to establish a commanding foothold in the tie.
"We will have a long flight for the second leg of this tie and that could be a factor ahead of the Southampton game, so we need to try and put ourselves in a strong position at St James' Park," stated Pardew, who can go full throttle in this game as his side do not have a match this weekend following their early FA Cup exit.
"There is a lot for us to look forward to as a club now, with the new players we signed in January slotting in so well and making us look a much stronger side, so we head into this Europa League tie feeling confident. We have good depth to our squad now, so let's use it.
"All of us want more nights like this at St James' Park this season and having worked hard to get ourselves through the group stage of this competition, we don't want that effort to go to waste."
The winter break in the Ukrainian league means Metalist head into this tie having not played a competitive match for more than two months, yet Pardew suggests their early arrival in the North East confirms they will be dangerous opponents.
"They are taking it seriously and they proved that by coming over to the North East so early," adds Pardew of a side who contested a 1-1 draw in a friendly game against Whitley Bay last Sunday.
"Metalist have some good quality and as they finished ahead of Bayer Leverkusen in the group stage of this competition, we realise that they are a very good side. We will have total respect for them, that's for sure."
Pardew is expected to give debuts to January signings Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Massadio Haidara over the course of this tie, but Yoan Gouffran will miss out as he nurses the shin injury he picked up during the defeat at Tottenham on Saturday.