NEWCASTLE boss Alan Pardew says the Luzhniki Stadium’s plastic pitch will influence his team selection in Moscow.
The Magpies take on Anzhi Makhachkala in a Europa League Round of 16 tie on Thursday night.
The Russian Premier League club aren’t able to play European games at their own home stadium in the Republic of Dagestan due to armed conflict.
And Anzhi – whose players live and train 1,000 miles away in the Russian capital – instead use the 80,000-capacity venue for Europa League fixtures.
The Luzhniki Stadium’s artificial surface – FieldTurf is installed – is a challenge to Pardew and his squad, who yesterday trained on Gosforth RFC’s 4G pitch at their Druid Park home.
Pardew feels the pitch will best suit his “technical” players – and he says he will name a strong team with this in mind.
“We want to win the game, so I’ll play the strongest team I can for that game,” Pardew said.
“It’s a different surface, and it’s going to favour some of our technical players. It’ll be a very technical team that I put out.”
Pardew’s previous experience of an artificial surface as United manager wasn’t a good one, with his team having played on the Citrus Bowl’s AstroTurf during the club’s pre-season tour of the United States in the summer of 2011.
The plan had been to play Florida club Orlando City on a grass pitch laid over the plastic pitch.
But the temporary surface was deemed unplayable – and it had to be pulled up the day before the game.
Newcastle were beaten 1-0 by Orlando – and Ryan Taylor suffered a groin injury.
Anzhi, managed by the hugely-experienced Guus Hiddink, represent formidable opposition, with Cameroon striker Samuel Eto’o and Brazil forward Willian in their ranks.
Eto’o is the highest-paid player in the world, while Willian cost £30m, and Pardew will give Hiddink’s side the respect they deserve.
“It would be massive if we could beat this team, because they’re a really strong side,” said Pardew.
“It’s really now down to where every team left in that Europa League now is focusing on it probably as their primary objective.
“I can’t think of too many clubs in it for whom it’s not at the top of their agenda now.”