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Obertan pressing for Toon start

GABRIEL OBERTAN once again staked his claim for a starting berth as Newcastle eased themselves closer to the last 32 of the Europa League.

The 23-year-old Frenchman scored the only goal of the game as a much-changed Magpies side overcome Belgian Pro League leaders Club Brugge in a tight contest at St James' Park.

Former Manchester United man Obertan has had to remain patient, with compatriot Hatem Ben Arfa ahead of him in the Tyneside pecking order, but Pardew acknowledged he had done himself no harm with his latest European contribution.

He said: "He really hasn't done much wrong and at the minute, he is being kept out by our best player, Ben Arfa. He keeps pushing and pushing and it's a nice option -- it's a bit frustrating for Gabby, but he can't do much more. He's only 23 and he was brilliant tonight."


Obertan was not the only youngster who responded to the challenge of being thrown into the heat of continental battle, with 20-year-old Sammy Ameobi playing the starring role in the build-up to the goal and full-back Shane Ferguson further enhancing his blossoming reputation.

Pardew said: "I was a little bit disappointed that I couldn't get Adam Campbell on to the pitch because in him, Sammy, Bigi (Gael Bigirimana) and Fergie, we have four players who are going to threaten this first team.

"Make no mistake, young Adam has been pushing for a place and was unlucky not to feature tonight. We are looking strong, and we have got to make sure those players evolve. We have got great senior players, who are setting the right example. They have got nothing really to complain about.

"They have got the perfect foundation here for them to come and be Newcastle players, and the challenge lies with them."