NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - MAY 22: Newcastle manager Alan Pardew signals to the crowd after the Barclays Premier League game between Newcastle United and West Bromwich Albion at St James' Park on May 22, 2011 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Newcastle United were drawn into Group D in the Europa League Friday, joining Bordeaux, Club Brugge, and Maritimo. It's a very travel-friendly group, which is not a small consideration given how congested their fixture list is about to become. Several spots in the calendar will be incredibly tight, and not having to fly to Ukraine, for example, is huge.
Competitively, Newcastle were handed one of the most favorable draws one could ask for. Bordeaux and Brugge were considered to be among the weaker teams in their respective pots, and Maritimo is not generally expected to play the role of major spoiler. These are teams that should make Alan Pardew relatively comfortable when he runs out his younger players. In short: If Newcastle do not advance, it will be a disappointment.
FIXTURES UPDATED 1600 BST:
September 20 - Away at Maritimo
October 4 - Bordeaux at home
October 25 - Club Brugge at home
The first (away) leg of the Tyne-Wear Derby takes place on the 21st, then the Toon host West Bromwich Albion on the 27th.
November 8 - Club Brugge away
Liverpool (away) on the 4th; West Ham (home) on the 10th.
November 22 - Maritimo at home
December 6 - Bordeaux away
We'll update the fixture list as soon as possible. Stay tuned to CHN for thorough previews of each of Newcastle's Europa League opponents.