Newcastle aim to shake off Man United hangover
Alan Pardew has warned his Newcastle side about the dangers of falling flat after their heroics against Manchester United as they prepare to launch their bid for FA Cup glory.
Newcastle host Premier League rivals Blackburn Rovers in the third round on Saturday, less than 72 hours after their memorable 3-0 victory over the defending champions.
Manager Pardew insists his team has every chance of mounting the club's first serious run in the competition since they reached the semi-final seven years ago, but only if they avoid resting on their laurels in the wake of their first win over Sir Alex Ferguson's side in a decade.
Newcastle went out to lowly Stevenage at the same stage 12 months ago, and he said: "It was just a fabulous evening against Manchester United, one of the best I've had as a manager, but there's little time to savour it, and we know we have to be right on our game again when we face Blackburn.
"We're still a little bit bleary-eyed, and the quick turn-around to this match isn't helpful. We had a similar situation last year when we lost to Stevenage, so it's very important we get ourselves as fresh as we can, especially with Blackburn having had four or five days rest.
"It's my job to make sure we're in the right frame of mind and ready for it.
"I'll freshen things up and it will be a different team, but hopefully we'll keep that same intensity and the same level of performance we had against Manchester United. We're going to need the crowd to help us again like they did the other night, and hopefully the adrenaline from that will also see us through."
Newcastle, beaten by Blackburn in the League Cup earlier this season, are without 15-goal top scorer Demba Ba and midfielder Cheik Tiote, who were both hugely influential in the victory over Manchester United that cemented Newcastle's hold on seventh place in the table.
The pair are away for at least a month on African Cup of Nations duty for Senegal and the Ivory Coast respectively, and Pardew has challenged his squad to help fill the void left by the missing duo.
"It's not ideal, but we've got to accept it and show it's not going to be just about those two players. Last season, we lost Andy Carroll in January, and Leon Best and Peter Lovenkrands came in and did a great job, so we have to make sure we do the same again," he said.
Pardew was a beaten FA Cup finalist as a player with Crystal Palace in 1990, suffering the same fate as West Ham manager in 2006. He added: "The FA Cup is an important competition, and is one that's very close to my heart.
"If you look at the league table, we're the seventh favourites, and that lessens because the top two, Manchester City and United are playing each other, so that gives us a chance to win a trophy.
"Of course it's early days in the competition, but you can't take your eyes off the prize, and it would be brilliant personally for me to lead the team out at Wembley for the final, so that's the aim."
Meanwhile, Gael Givet is set to make his first start for Blackburn since suffering a heart scare last month.
French defender Givet emerged unscathed from a 20-minute appearance as a substitute during Monday's 2-1 home league defeat to Stoke.
His return will provide Steve Kean with a timely boost as the Blackburn boss remains under pressure following a poor season.
Bolton's surprise 2-1 win in at Everton on Wednesday sent Blackburn back to the bottom of the table and Kean could do with a cup run to appease fans who want him sacked.
Junior Hoilett, who scored in a 3-1 league defeat at Newcastle back in September, will have a fitness test on a hamstring problem.
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