Alan Pardew admits relegation is still a fear for Newcastle

Recent results have seen the Magpies climb away from the bottom three

Alan Pardew admits he will not shake off the fear of relegation until Newcastle's Barclays Premier League status is mathematically assured.

The Magpies have given their survival hopes a significant boost with back-to-back victories over Aston Villa and, in thrilling style, Chelsea in their last two games, and now sit in 15th place on 27 points, six clear of the drop zone.

However, as he prepared for tomorrow's tough trip to in-form Tottenham, Pardew, who had been candid in his admission that the club was in trouble before its influx of January signings, was refusing to get carried away.

Asked if he had genuinely considered the possibility of dropping out of the top flight for the second time in four years, he said: "Of course - and I still will think about it until such time as we have 40 points because it might take 40 this year.

"In the past, 37, 38 has been enough. I have a feeling it won't be this year, so we have got to keep working.

"We are by no means out of the situation we are in."

That said, not just the fact, but the manner of the victory over Chelsea, which was inspired by two-goal new boy Moussa Sissoko, has allowed Pardew to sleep easier this week.

He said: "I think you do. It's nice to be around the city with a more positive feel in terms of our fans and how they feel about the team.

"It's very, very important. It can't be underestimated that that's what we are here for. That's what we want to do, represent the city and have the city in a good mood about the team.

"Unfortunately for a long period of the season, we haven't managed to do that."

Sissoko's home debut could hardly have been any more impressive.

Having already made an early impression with the pass which allowed striker Papiss Cisse to set Newcastle on their way to a much-needed 2-1 victory at Villa on January 29, the 23-year-old Frenchman made a nonsense of his £1.8million price tag to announce himself in style on Tyneside against the European champions.

His 68th-minute equaliser rescued a game which looked to be slipping away from the Magpies, and his last-minute winner ensured rave reviews.

However, Pardew is convinced it will also mean he is paid far greater attention in the future as opposing teams attempt to limit his influence.

The manager said: "He will find it more difficult from now on. He had a lot of room to run into against Chelsea and if you give him the room, he's going to exploit it.

"Of course teams are going to make it much more difficult for him."

Sissoko's move to Newcastle was brought forward by six months as owner Mike Ashley answered Pardew's plea for reinforcements, but compatriot Mathieu Debuchy's arrival had been delayed by a similar period after his prospective transfer fell through last summer.

However, the France full-back has established himself in the team with the minimum of fuss.

Pardew said: "His stats were about the best we have had from a full-back at the weekend, and that was against Chelsea, so he is progressing really well.

"It's much, much harder for defenders in the Premier League to adjust because of the speed and the tenacity of the division. I have been impressed with the way he has settled in."

Cheick Tiote could return to the squad following his return from the Ivory Coast's African Nations Cup campaign, but Hatem Ben Arfa faces further time on the sidelines after illness delayed his comeback from a hamstring injury.

Meanwhile, Metalist Kharkiv, who face the Magpies at St James' Park in the first leg of their Europa League tie on Thursday, are to warm up with a friendly against Northern League Whitley Bay on Sunday evening.

PA

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