Newcastle United face a tricky trip to Lisbon.
Manager Alan Pardew claimed his team’s European adventure has come at a cost to Newcastle’s league performances but stressed his approach wouldn’t change even with the club’s top-flight status still not assured for next season.
“It has cost us points and without a shadow of a doubt we would not be in this position if we were not in the Europa League.
“However, we are and we’ve approached the Europa League every time to try and win the game.
“You can fault us for that, but we think that’s the right approach and we will carry that forward into Thursday,” Pardew told The Journal.
Portuguese table-toppers Benfica are unbeaten in the league this season, while their 13-match unbeaten home run in the Europa League dates back to the advent of the rebranded competition.
Goalkeeper Tim Krul and defender Davide Santon could return to action after being included in the 19-man Newcastle squad.
Krul has missed seven games with an ankle injury picked up in the previous round against Metalist Kharkiv.
Santon sat out Saturday’s 4-0 defeat by Manchester City with a thigh problem.
Massadio Haidara, who suffered a knee injury against Wigan, and Cheick Tiote (hamstring) remain on the sidelines.
The French duo of Mathieu Debuchy and Yoan Gouffran are ineligible after appearances in European competition for their previous clubs before joining Newcastle in January.
Hatem Ben Arfa and Fabricio Coloccini, who have hamstring and back problems respectively, are both long-term absentees.
Former Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic, Paraguayan striker Oscar Cardozo and former Valencia playmaker Pablo Aimar are available for Benfica.