Newcastle currently sit in 16th place in the table, just four points better off than Reading inside the bottom three and Pardew is well aware that advantage could have all but disappeared by the time his side kicks off on Sunday afternoon. The game has added spice for him as he was summarily dismissed from his job as Saints manager by chairman Nicola Cortese in August 2010 after 13 months in charge. A similar same fate befell successor Nigel Adkins in January, although the south coast club’s fortunes have taken a turn for the better since the appointment of Argentinian Mauricio Pochettino as his replacement. Southampton have collected four of the last six points on offer, the last three from a stunning 3-1 home victory over champions Manchester City, and Pardew is under no illusions as to how difficult a game it will be having seen his side lose 2-0 at the St Mary’s Stadium in November. He said: “It’s going to be dear to my heart to win this game, trust me, so I won’t be pulling any punches in my dressing room. But that’s easier said than done. Southampton have definitely picked up and they play a high pressing game which we are going to have to combat.” Striker Shola Ameobi emerged a matchwinner, calmly stroking home the 64th-minute penalty which ensured Newcastle’s progression, but is likely to be among the substitutes once again on Sunday with Frenchman Yoan Gouffran, who is ineligible in Europe, ready to resume after recovering from a badly-gashed shin. Ameobi said: “It is difficult for me. When you try to establish yourself in the team, you play one week, then have three out. But it’s important to know that it is not about me – it is about the team. That always comes first.” Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has warned his players to forget about their Europa League heroics and concentrate on the task of dragging themselves to Barclays Premier League safety. The Magpies booked a last-16 clash with big-spending Russian outfit Anzhi Makhachkala next month with a 1-0 victory over Metalist Kharkiv in Ukraine on Thursday night. However, despite his delight at the win, Pardew swiftly turned his attention to Sunday’s visit of former club Southampton to St James’ Park. Asked if Europe now had to be put to one side for the time being, Pardew said: “Yes, for sure. We have got two very important Premier League games and if we could get three, four points out of those two games, I would take that now. It would give us a good angle to go into the next phase of the Europa League.” Press Association
Northern Ireland is the Home of Thrones. The popular TV series Game of Thrones was filmed in Belfast and across Northern Ireland. The final season of Game of Thrones has ratcheted up the intensity of HBO’s epic fantasy tale, leaving fans eager for more.After a decade of getting to know the characters and kingdoms, enjoying the plot twists and marvelling at the dramatic scenery that formed the backdrop to the series, many Thrones devotees can fill the void, once the series concludes, by heading to Northern Ireland, the physical and spiritual home of the series, where they can immerse themselves in the world of Westeros and an abundance of ways to enjoy it.For set-jetters, an excellent destination is the spectacular Causeway Coast, north of Belfast, where the beautiful Downhill Beach stood in for Dragonstone, the brooding Dark Hedges became the King’s road and the mysterious Cushendun Caves turned into the location where the Red Priestess Melisandre gave birth to her shadow baby.Numerous guided tours will take fans around these sites, as well as other key filming locations south of Belfast, which include Old Castle Ward in County Down. Doubling as the Stark home of Winterfell, this National Trust property has 19 Thrones’ shoot locations on site and is rich in experiences related to the show.Many of the tours in the ‘Home of Thrones’ are led by locals who have worked as actors, extras and crew on the show and who can share great behind-the-scenes stories. But the Game of Thrones experiences extends far beyond set-jetting.In Belfast, for example, you can challenge yourself to the Game of Thrones-themed escape room, grab a selfie at the giant stained-glass windows representing the Houses of the Seven Kingdoms and see a 70-metre-long Bayeux-style tapestry at the Ulster Museum depicting key scenes from each season.In addition, until September 1, Game of Thrones: The Touring Exhibition will be at the city’s Titanic Exhibition Centre close to the Titanic Studios, the show’s central production facility.Featuring costumes, authentic props and majestic settings from all seven seasons screened to date, the must-see exhibition reveals the artistry and craftsmanship behind the Emmy award-winning series and offers an interactive and immersive ‘Thrones’ experience like no other.And beyond Series 8, fans can look forward to an exciting new Game of Thrones experience opening in spring 2020. The Linen Mill Studios in Banbridge, County Down will drop Thrones followers into the very heart of the Seven Kingdoms.Featuring a compelling mix of behind-the-scenes insights, interactive elements, and expansive, fully dressed sets, the Game of Thrones Studio Tour will keep the worlds of Westeros and Essos alive long after the TV sensation ends.