Alan Pardew hopes to strengthen Newcastle squad in January

 

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has insisted owner Mike Ashley is well aware of the strains European football is placing on his injury-hit squad.

The Magpies will reach the knockout stages of the Europa League if they can beat Portuguese outfit Maritimo at St James' Park tomorrow night, and that will ensure their first foray into European competition for five years will extend into the new year.

However, while Pardew's men are unbeaten in Group D and have beaten both Bordeaux and Club Brugge on Tyneside, they have been unable to repeat the domestic form which secured a return to continental action last season amid a rash of injuries and suspensions which has exposed the relative lack of depth in the squad.

Ajax midfielder Vurnon Anita was the only senior player added to the squad during the summer as Ashley and managing director Derek Llambias stuck to their valuations, although the manager revealed they are well-versed on the matter.

Pardew said: "We are all concerned. It's not like it's just heaped on myself and 'Get on with it'.

"The managing director and the owner are very conscious of where we are and we are trying to make sure that we look at the period and events leading up to the next window, and we will react from there."

The Magpies have already been linked with another attempt to land Lille's France international full-back Mathieu Debuchy - one of a series of men for whom they were unable to strike deals at the right price during the closed season - in January, while Pardew has made no secret of his interest in former striker Andy Carroll.

However, while the need for reinforcements is evident, he is adamant that is focus will not turn to that side of things until the window opens.

He said: "This isn't about transfers yet. I have heard in the press and even our fans talking about transfers in, etc, etc.

"Really, we just need to knuckle down and get some results with the squad we have because there's actually nothing we can do until the window opens anyway.

"It's not really high on our priority list. It goes on all the time, that talk in the background, and we will deal with that when we need to."

The focus on the strength of Pardew's squad has been sharpened by successive home Barclays Premier League defeats by West Ham and Swansea, which have capped a disappointing run of form and left Newcastle sitting in 12th place in the table.

A run of just one win in seven league games represents a rare lull during Pardew's tenure to date, but it has simply served to increase the 51-year-old's determination to turn things around.

He said: "I have been very fortunate to have a squad that has remained pretty fit and healthy since I have been here, and we have not really had much down time.

"We have had the odd result that didn't really go our way, but have rebounded very, very quickly.

"But this is the first time that we have lost a couple of games on the spin and we have lost so many players to injuries, and it's difficult.

"That's when you have to show your mettle and look to the squad and try to boost them and get a performance, and that's what me as a manager and my staff are trying to do."

Skipper Fabricio Coloccini, midfielder Jonas Gutierrez and striker Papiss Cisse will be available after suspension, injury and FIFA-imposed ineligibility respectively, but midfielder Cheick Tiote is banned and usual partner Yohan Cabaye is facing a spell on the sidelines as he prepares to undergo groin surgery.

Pardew said: "We have lost two home games and that's not acceptable for us. We need to make sure we win tomorrow, and it would also give us qualification, so it's a big night for us."

PA

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