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22 August 2012, 06:38
Alan Pardew and his players are flying out to Greece today for their first leg of their play-off clash with Atromitos.
Hatem Ben Arfa will miss the start of Newcastle's Europa League campaign as he serves a 3 match European ban dating back to 2010 his time at former club Marseille.
The 25-year-old, whose late penalty against Tottenham on Saturday evening got the Magpies off to a winning start in the Barclays Premier League, was sent off in Marseille's 2-1 home defeat by Benfica in March 2010 which saw them miss out on a place in the Europa League quarter-finals that season.
Ben Arfa joined Newcastle on loan later that year and has had no opportunity since to serve his ban.
As a result, he will miss both legs of the tie against the Greeks and the first game of the group stage if Newcastle progress.
However, the France international, like several of his senior colleagues, might have been rested for Thursday's fixture in Athens anyway, with Pardew knowing he will have to carefully manage his resources this season if his squad is to compete in both the Premier League and in Europe.
They earned their return to the continental stage by finish fifth last season and are determined to establish themselves in the upper reaches of the Premier League once again while attempting to extend their European adventure.
That was something they achieved during Sir Bobby Robson's reign, although that was in an era when the manager was able to work under fewer financial restrictions.
This time around, the likes of Haris Vuckic and Mehdi Abeid will hope for a chance to show what they can do while some of their more illustrious colleagues sit out in preparation for Saturday's league trip to Chelsea.
Pardew's men will play twice inside 48 hours after failing in their request to have the game at Stamford Bridge re-arranged, with the Notting Hill Carnival taking place in London this weekend.