Newcastle keeper Tim Krul set to face free-scoring Benfica

04 April 2013 07:49

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has indicated his fit-again star goalkeeper Tim Krul will return to action in tonight's Europa League quarter-final first leg against Benfica.

Krul has missed the past seven matches after sustaining an ankle injury in the last-32 second leg at Metalist Kharkiv. And Pardew is delighted to have the Holland international, who turned 25 yesterday, back for the clash at the Estadio da Luz in Lisbon - as well as Sunday's home Barclays Premier League clash with Fulham.

Pardew said: "He has trained very well and I personally think he is one of the top goalkeepers in the world. This is a great opportunity for him to come back as the number one ahead of Sunday."

He added: "I don't mind putting that pressure on him - he accepts at this level that if he wants to play in the Dutch national side, that is the pressure he is under. I have no doubt he will respond to that."

Krul, meanwhile, has saluted the efforts of Rob Elliot, who he believes has done a sound job deputising in goal during his absence.

"He has done great, and the thing is, the competition is great for this club," Krul said. "It also pushes me to my best. I like to have somebody training with me who is of his quality. So it is good for me and good for the club."

Should he reclaim the starting spot from Elliot tonight, as expected, Krul may well have a busy evening's work on his hands in trying to keep Benfica at bay.

The Portuguese Liga leaders have scored over 100 goals in all competitions this term and are coming into the contest having netted 18 times in their last four fixtures.

Pardew has seemingly selected as strong a squad as possible for the match. As well as Krul, defender Davide Santon, who was sidelined for Saturday's 4-0 league defeat at Manchester City by a thigh problem, has been included.

Two players who sat out the City loss, Cheick Tiote (hamstring) and Massadio Haidara (knee), are missing from the 19-man party, along with Fabricio Coloccini (back), Hatem Ben Arfa (hamstring), Mathieu Debuchy and Yoan Gouffran (both ineligible).

Source: PA