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Pardew hails Bigirimana
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew is predicting big things for teenage midfielder Gael Bigirimana after seeing him turn in a mature Europa League display on Madeira.
The 18-year-old, a summer signing from Coventry, played the enforcing role in the middle of the field as Pardew's much-changed side battled their way to a 0-0 draw against Maritimo.
The manager said: "He is calm, isn't he? There were times when the game got too open, really, for us. We were trying to win it and leaving ourselves a bit open, and it was him nine times out of 10 who was shutting the door and then being calm and composed. This is a boy who is 18 years old. He has got a great future."
Pardew added: "You could criticise my selection in terms of experienced players here, but these guys, it's massive for them. As we go along and we got more options for me in terms of fitness, Bigi is going to play himself into being right in with a sniff even when everybody is back, like he did."
The Magpies started in lacklustre fashion at the Estadio dos Barreiros and might have been two down within minutes had keeper Rob Elliot, making just his second appearance for the club, not produced fine saves to deny Sami on both occasions.
However, it was the visitors who then took charge and Shola Ameobi twice and midfielder Dan Gosling were both thwarted by the woodwork. But Elliot had to make late saves from Sami and substitute Goncalo, and David Santon headed defender Valentin Roberge's late effort on to his own crossbar in a last-gasp flurry.
Pardew, whose side face Bordeaux, who beat Club Brugge 4-0, on Tyneside on October 4, is hoping successive home games will be key to their qualification hopes.
He said: "They are important games because we have got no travelling, so it will be just like a midweek game for us and I don't see any problem in selecting a team. After Bordeaux's result against Bruges, it is everything on the line for Bruges probably in our game. That's a very important game in terms of the league and we need to win it.
"But I am well-armed. We could still suffer a couple of injuries between now and that game - who's to say we are not going to lose any more players? I am just fingers crossed that some are going to come back and we will be stronger."
Maritimo boss Pedro Martins remains confident that Group D is still wide open. He said: "It is open. Bruges lost to Bordeaux, so everything is open. We will go to Bruges to play a good game and to win, of course."