Newcastle United looks to secure their spot in the next round of the Europa League as they travel to face Belgian Club Bruges.
- (Photo: Reuters/Darren Staples)
After solid play, Newcastle currently sits atop Group D with seven points after their first three games. They have positive results from Bordeaux and Bruges in the pair's first meeting at St James' Park, and the English team drew Maritimo away from home.
Should United secure a full three points, it will almost guarantee them a spot in the knockout round with two games left in the group stage. The situation for United could become complicated should Bordeaux lose to Maritimo.
United manager Alan Pardew should be well pleased with his club's recent performance, given the impressive and gutsy showing against Liverpool on Saturday to secure a 1-1 draw.
Young Spanish international Xisco was listed as part of the 20-man squad that traveled to Belgium on Wednesday in preparation of the match at Jan Breydel Stadion.
The Spaniard raised eyebrows last month when he scored a hat-trick during the club's Under-21 match against Stoke.
He is expected to play along with Fabricio Coloccini and Cheick Tiote, who are likely to start given that they will face suspension for Sunday's Premier League match against West Ham.
With the explosive combination up front, United still has to contend with a few key injuries. Defenders James Perch and Danny Simpson are unavailable due to injury and striker Demba Ba did not make the trip along with Steve Harper and Hatem Ben Arfa.
For Club Bruges' manager Philippe Clement, his situation is dire given that his team currently is third in the group with only three points from three matches, placing them one point behind Bordeaux and one point above Maritimo.
To make his task even harder is the fact that Clement has only 18 first team players that he is able to select from, with Jesper Jorgensen and Vadis Odjidja being the only available midfielders.
Kick-off for the match is at 1:00 p.m. ET and can be watched online here.