Kevin Bond is in no doubt as to how tough our trip to face Newcastle at St James’ Park on Saturday will be.
It’s been a whirlwind first season back in the Premier League for the Toon, who made a promising start to the campaign under Chris Hughton before Alan Pardew took over as manager last month.
And they are currently unbeaten in their last three league matches since our 2-0 victory over them at the Lane on December 28.
But no matter what form they are on, Kev believes a visit to one of the most daunting venues in the country will always test the mettle of any side.
He said: “They will always get 50,000 people there and you’ve still got to be able to handle that pressure of the big stage with a full house.
“They are very passionate fans up there so you need to have strong minds and a strong character, and be resolute as a side.
“They’ve started to find a little bit of form so it will be a difficult game for us. But we know that we’re playing well and capable matching anybody on our day in the league, so we’ll go there in a positive frame of mind.”
That game at the Lane just over three weeks ago provided a stern test of our character with Newcastle packing the midfield and playing one up top.
It took until the 57th minute before Aaron Lennon broke the deadlock, with Gareth Bale making sure of the points later on.
Talisman Andy Carroll may have missed every game since through injury but the resurgence of Leon Best and the return to fitness of Shola Ameobi now gives Pardew the option of a more attacking lineup.
Kev added: “In the last couple of games they’ve gone two up top so I don’t know whether they’ll do that. They did make it difficult for us at home and it took a little while before we broke them down.
“They’re at home so there will be a bit of expectation on them to come and take the game to us. In some ways that might suit us because it might make it more of an open game.”