Chris Hughton has challenged Newcastle to show West Bromwich Albion just what they are up against if they are to wrench the Championship title from their grasp.
The leaders go into tonight's game at St James' Park six points and two places better off than the Baggies, who slipped out of the Premier League with them at the end of last season.
Three points either way could have a major say in how the promotion race pans out with in-form Nottingham Forest having edged themselves to within two points of the Magpies, albeit having played two more games, as a result of yesterday's 2-1 victory over Reading.
But after watching his team end a run of three successive draws in all competitions with a 3-0 FA Cup third-round replay victory over Plymouth on Wednesday night, Hughton is hoping his players can make a statement about their intentions for the rest of the campaign when it matters most.
The Magpies manager said: ''There's no doubt that when you are playing against what you regard as the bigger and better teams in this division, they are always tough games and it probably means more when you come out and win the game.
"Against a side that is as good as West Brom are, it's a chance to make a statement. And the fact that they are so close to us means it's probably the biggest game of the season so far."Reuse content