Newcastle's January recruits have boosted morale, says goalkeeper Tim Krul

The Magpies entertain Ukrainian side Metalist Kharkiv at St James' Park tonight

Goalkeeper Tim Krul admits he and his Newcastle team-mates have had a weight lifted from their shoulders as they prepare to return to Europa League action.

The Magpies entertain Ukrainian side Metalist Kharkiv at St James' Park tonight having steadied the ship in the Premier League with two victories in their last three games.

They remain too close for comfort to the Barclays Premier League relegation zone, but, with five January signings on board and spirits soaring as a result of their recent recovery, the prospect of fighting their way into the last 16 of a European competition is one they can attack with confidence.

Krul said: "We have had a really hard time during the first half of the season, but with these new faces coming in, it gives us a massive boost and a lot of confidence.

"We have still got a lot of hard games to play, but we can go into those games with a lot of confidence."

The arrivals of Mathieu Debuchy and Moussa Sissoko in particular have given the club a lift, and although the former, like striker Yoan Gouffran, is ineligible in Europe, the mood they have helped to create is hugely positive.

Krul said: "They have been fantastic. Normally you see with new players, they take a bit of time to settle. But these lads, from the moment they walked into the club, they have been great for us."

The Holland international freely admits he knew little about tonight's opponents until manager Alan Pardew and his coaching staff got to work earlier this week, although he will at least be on familiar territory for the away leg.

Krul said: "Funnily enough, I know a lot about the stadium because we played all our three group game in the Euros there.

"We have had, of course, a team meeting and we know everything about the players now, but before, I didn't know much."

Pardew had a chance to run the rule over the men from Kharkiv, who are currently on a mid-season break and have not played a competitive game since December 6, when they drew 1-1 in a friendly against Northern League Whitley Bay on Sunday evening.

The manager said: "It's not ideal for them, but on the other and, it can work well. They will obviously be very fresh and very motivated for this game, and that can hide a number of sins.

"They have a large influx of South American players, who give the team a real characteristic of technique, and that's probably what we are going to have to come up against.

"They are very good at keeping the ball and keeping it away from us, and will probably take our tempo out of the game.

"That's their strength, and on the break, they are fast, so we need to be on our guard. As Juventus proved on Tuesday night at Celtic, you have to be very clever in how you attack."

PA

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