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Newcastle, Sporting KC expect to battle heat in friendly

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — When Sir Alex Ferguson hands out recommendations, people tend to listen. Newcastle manager Alan Pardew is no different.

Newcastle United are in Kansas City to take on Sporting KC on Wednesday night at Livestrong Sporting Park (8:30 pm ET), largely on the weight of Sir Alex’s experiences during the Red Devils’ swing through the Midwest last July.

Just like Ferguson had indicated when the two managers spoke, Pardew said the facilities have been first-class and the hospitality warm and welcoming. It’s the suffocating heat that has come as somewhat of a surprise.

“It’s certainly hotter than we envisioned it being,” Pardew said. “Training was really tough, [and] the stadium is going to be intense [on Wednesday]. We’re going to try and play a normal game as much as we can.”

And although the happenings between the lines will be normal, both Pardew and Kansas City manager Peter Vermes agreed that, in light of the heat and both teams’ current situations, each side would be able to have eight to 10 subs at their disposal.

Sporting are playing the second of a three-game stretch in eight days, not including Tuesday’s Reserve League game against the Chicago Fire. For their part, Newcastle are still in the opening stages of their preseason and in no hurry to sap their players of energy, especially weeks before a blue-ribbon league opener against Arsenal.

“We both have something to protect,” Vermes said. “They are just starting out, and we are in the middle and we have to make sure that we have enough to make a continued run to the end of the season.”

The Magpies are also missing Joey Barton, Yohan Cabaye and Nile Ranger during their travels through the United States after visa issues kept the trio back in England. But despite those key absences, Pardew said he planned on putting a strong team on the field even if minutes would be limited.

“We’re going to try to replicate what we do in the Premier League against Sporting Kansas City tomorrow so they should get a feel for the way we play,” he said.

Those tactics could certainly be adjusted as the Tynesiders play through the heat, a factor players said drained concentration after half an hour or so of training on Monday and Tuesday and made hydration more important than normal.

“We’re not used to these sort of temperatures back at home,” Newcastle forward Shola Ameobi said. “It’s something that comes as a little bit of a shock to us.”

Even facing heat warnings that would never pose an issue across the pond, Pardew remained jovial, giving Vermes a little stick to keep in the spirit of things.

“We’d like to turn the temperature down a notch or two,” Pardew deadpanned. “But unfortunately, Peter couldn’t manage to reach those heights.” 

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