Preview: Newcastle United vs. Metalist Kharkiv

Magpies manager Alan Pardew sits in the dugout during the game with Norwich on January 12, 2013
© PA Photos
Sports Mole previews the first leg of the Europa League round of 32 clash between Newcastle United and Metalist Kharkiv on Thursday.

Newcastle United will attempt to gain a first-leg advantage when they welcome Ukrainian outfit Metalist Kharkiv in the Europa League round of 32 on Thursday.

The Magpies have struggled to live up to their standards from the previous Premier League season, but they have won two of their last three matches to move into 16th position in the table, four points above the relegation zone.

Meanwhile, Metalist have been fairly solid in their domestic campaign, losing just four of their 18 matches to sit in fourth position. However, they are an incredible 15 points behind leaders Shakhtar Donetsk, who have lost just once this season.

The home side made it to this stage of the competition after overcoming a group that contained Maritimo, Bordeaux and Club Brugge, while Metalist advanced from Group K, which also included Bayer Leverkusen, Rapid Vienna and Rosenborg.

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew is expected to ring the chances, with Cheick Tiote and Shola Ameobi both coming into the team. French import Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa should also start in the middle of their defence.

The away side have an almost fully-fit squad to choose from ahead of the match, with Cleiton Xavier expected to play in a withdrawn role behind Willian. Fellow Brazilian Marlos should also start in midfield.

Recent form:

Newcastle: DLWWL
Metalist: WWWLD

Possible lineups:

Newcastle: Krul; Santon, Yanga-Mbiwa, Perch, Williamson; Marveaux, Tiote, Anita, Jonas; Sh Ameobi, Gouffran

Metalist: Horyainov; Gueye, Torsiglieri, Barvinko, Berezovchuk; Xavier, Sosa, Torres, Marlos; Willian, Cristaldo

Sports Mole says: 3-1

Toon Army boss Alan Pardew on the touchline before the game with Reading on January 19, 2013
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