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Ranger in from the cold for Magpies
Forgotten man Nile Ranger will get a chance to prove his credentials in Bordeaux on Thursday night as manager Alan Pardew hands him a Europa League start.
The 21-year-old striker, whose off-field antics and persistent lateness had seen him fall dramatically in the pecking order at St James' Park, will start at the Stade Chaban-Delmas as the Magpies attempt to snatch back top spot in Group D in the final round of fixtures.
Ranger, whose last senior start for the club came against Aston Villa in April 2010, was among a party of 20 which belatedly left Tyneside on Wednesday evening after heavy snow kept them grounded for more than three hours at Newcastle airport. Pardew said: "Nile will start. I think he's probably the story of the last two or three months in terms of a positive."
The Magpies boss added: "He's been out of the papers, he's been on time for the last eight to 10 weeks and he's put in application on the training ground. I've never said to anyone 'It's all over, you're not getting a chance'. If you stick to the rules and put the ethic in, I'll give you a chance.
"And that's all it is for him at the moment, a chance, and we hope he takes it. We know he's got talent. Hopefully he puts it in on the pitch."
Ranger will be one of several young players in the starting XI for a game which will test the depth of both squads. Pardew's opposite number Francis Gillot has indicated he will rest senior men with Bordeaux needing only a draw to ensure they finish top of the group, while Sammy Ameobi, Shane Ferguson and Gael Bigirimana have got the nod for the Magpies.
Pardew admits his side has been selected with one eye on Monday night's Barclays Premier League trip to Fulham as he looks to back up the 3-0 win over Wigan, and admits both he and Gillot could be largely in the dark as they draw up their tactics.
He said: "Obviously, we have got to protect ourselves for Monday night, which is an important game for us, but this has its own importance.
"We have got a very young side which is going to start, so we just hope we have got enough in that team to keep us in the game and then - obviously, the draw is no good for us - look to win it towards the end."
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