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Newcastle prepared for 'precipice'

Published: Wednesday 14 April 2004, 9.17CET
Newcastle United FC manager Sir Bobby Robson believes the second leg against PSV Eindhoven is too close to call.

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Published: Wednesday 14 April 2004, 9.17CET

Newcastle prepared for 'precipice'

Newcastle United FC manager Sir Bobby Robson believes the second leg against PSV Eindhoven is too close to call.

By Alex O'Henley in Newcastle

Newcastle United FC manager Sir Bobby Robson has described his side's UEFA Cup quarter-final against former club PSV Eindhoven as "a game on a narrow precipice".

Away goal
Jermaine Jenas cancelled out Mateja Kezman's early strike to earn Newcastle a 1-1 first-leg draw at the Philips stadium last Thursday, and that away goal has made the English team marginal favourites to progress to a semi-final against Olympique de Marseille or FC Internazionale. However, Sir Bobby claims the tie is too finely balanced to predict.

'There to be won'
"The game is there to be won by both teams," he said. "A 0-0 draw would see us through, but with five minutes to go you'd be like a cat on a hot tin roof worrying about a mistake or a goal that would put you out. The first goal will be very important and that's what both sides will be playing for."

Champions League setback
Newcastle are unbeaten at home in 2004 and picked up a point in a goalless draw against Premiership leaders Arsenal FC on Sunday, keeping them in contention for a place in next season's UEFA Champions League. Newcastle failed to qualify for the group stages of Europe's élite tournament this season after being knocked out on penalties by FK Partizan in the third qualifying round, and experienced midfield player Gary Speed says the players are desperate to make up for that setback in the UEFA Cup.

'Bitterly disappointing'
"It was bitterly disappointing to get knocked out of the Champions League, but the next best thing is the UEFA Cup and to win that would be a fantastic achievement for this club," said the Welsh international. "Success breeds confidence and our home form has been good this year, so hopefully that can work in our favour against PSV."

Dyer dilemma
Newcastle have five players one booking away from suspension, including captain Alan Shearer. Their only injury concern surrounds Kieron Dyer, who missed the first leg with a hamstring problem, but the midfield player trained on Tuesday and has declared himself fit.

Robben ruled out
PSV enjoyed a convincing 5-0 win against FC Groningen on Sunday, but it came at a cost with winger Arjen Robben tearing a hamstring in his comeback game, an injury that rules him out for the rest of the season. Coach Guus Hiddink concedes the loss of Robben is a blow ahead of tonight's return, but feels his team has enough quality to progress.

'Full of confidence'
"PSV are coming to Newcastle with a lot of confidence," said Hiddink. "It would have been good to have had Robben available, but he might not have played the full 90 minutes in any case. We have to score a goal here and that is what we will be trying to do."

Unbeaten run
The Dutch side are unbeaten in their last eight European matches away from home and Hiddink sees no reason why that should not continue at Newcastle, especially if they can contain the striking threat of Shearer and Craig Bellamy. "It's very important for PSV to get hold of Shearer and Bellamy," he said. "They played very well in Eindhoven and how we play against them will have an important bearing on the outcome of this tie."

Last updated: 14/04/04 23.18CET