Alan Pardew primed for a testing week in Newcastle United’s season

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ALAN Pardew is getting ready for one of the biggest weeks of Newcastle United’s season – culminating in the most hotly-anticipated Tyne-Wear derbies in years, writes Miles Starforth

Pardew’s side have back-to-back home games against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Sunderland.

There is also Monday’s FA Youth Cup quarter-final against Blackburn Rovers at the Sports Direct Arena.

Newcastle are sixth going into this afternoon’s game against Wolves – who yesterday appointed sacked boss Mick McCarthy’s assistant Terry Connor as manager until the end of the season – and just a point off fourth place.

Newcastle are three points ahead of Liverpool in seventh and hoping to pressure the teams above them this season.

Pardew is under no illusions about the importance of the next eight days, in particular the sold-out visit of Sunderland.

The Black Cats promise to be a stern proposition, having climbed into ninth under Martin O’Neill, veteran of many Old Firm derbies from his time in charge of Celtic.

“It’s a big week for this football club, and we’re ready for it,” Pardew said.

“We’re looking forward to it.”

Pardew will attend the FA Youth Cup tie against Blackburn, having watched Dave Watson’s in-form team overcome Queens Park Rangers in the last round.

And he is hoping Newcastle’s supporters turn out in force for the tie.

“I was a little bit disappointed (with the crowd) last time, but it was a cold night,” said Pardew. “Hopefully, it’ll be a bit warmer on Monday night.”

United have also beaten Darlington and Watford this season in the prestigious competition, which they last won in 1985, when Paul Gascoigne was a youth-team player.

The winners of the tie will take on either Fulham or Burnley in a two-legged semi-final.