Pardew warns of tough start
Alan Pardew has warned Newcastle to prepare for a gruelling start to the season after they were handed a Europa League play-off trip to Greece.
Friday afternoon's draw in Nyon paired the Magpies with Greek side Atromitos in the final qualifying round for this season's Europa League.
Pardew's men will travel to the Peristeri Stadium for the first leg on either Wednesday, August 22 or Thursday, August 23, with the return taking place on Tyneside a week later.
If the initial game does take place on the Thursday evening, they face the daunting prospect of taking on Champions League winners Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League less than 48 hours later, with police having refused permission for the fixture to be moved due to the Notting Hill Carnival taking place during the same weekend.
Athens-based Atromitos finished fourth in the Greek Super League last season, 23 points adrift of champions Olympiacos, who drew 1-1 with Newcastle in Portugal last month.
Pardew told the club's official website: "It will be a hard game, for sure. You don't finish fourth in your league unless you've got something going on, so they are obviously on the up.
"It's a tough journey which is going to take a little bit away from us. Certainly coming back from there to go to Chelsea on a Saturday is not ideal."
UEFA confirmed earlier this summer that Newcastle could attempt to negotiate a change of date for the fixture with their opponents once the draw was made, although the club is yet to reveal whether or not they have attempted to do so.
The Magpies earned their place in the draw by virtue of an unexpected fifth-place finish in last season's league.
It will be the Tyneside club's first foray into Europe since the 2006-07 season, when they missed out on a place in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup on away goals after 4-4 aggregate draw with Dutch side AZ Alkmaar.
Glenn Roeder led them into that campaign via the much-maligned Intertoto Cup, and the club's fortunes dipped alarmingly thereafter, eventually ending in relegation from the Premier League in 2009, a fate which left further continental action way off the agenda.
Newcastle had previously been regular visitors, enjoying Champions League adventures under both Kenny Dalglish and Sir Bobby Robson and reaching the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup in 2004, only to be gunned down by then Marseille hitman Didier Drogba.
Indeed, Europe provided the club with its last major trophy, the 1969 Fairs Cup, with the 1955 FA Cup success the last domestic silverware to return to the black and white corner of the north-east.
Last season's heroics were much appreciated by the Toon Army, and Pardew is delighted to have been able to provide the club's fans with a new adventure.
He said: "I'm sure they'll enjoy it. Athens is a fantastic city, so it will be great to see the Geordies rumbling around there."