Alan Pardew not thinking of Europe
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has warned his players not to get carried away by talk of European qualification.
The Magpies cemented their place in the top half of the Barclays Premier League table with a hard-fought 1-1 draw with Bolton last weekend, and head into Saturday's clash with Everton sitting in ninth place and eight points clear of the relegation zone.
However, until they are mathematically assured of their presence in next season's top flight, Pardew will not allow anyone within the camp to think of anything other than survival and the need to achieve it as quickly as possibly.
Finishing in their current position would represent a significant achievement for last season's Championship winners, and although a good run to the end of the campaign could see them challenge for sixth and the Europa League, that is very much on the fringes of the manager's thoughts.
Pardew said: "It's not lost on us. It's a situation where, with the goal difference we have, we could jump a couple of places, and that's what you want to do at any football club.
"We will strive to get a victory on Saturday and see where it leaves us at 5pm.
"We can jump up the league a few places, but we are a long way from getting into Europe.
"We have a team that is functioning well, the results have been good since the turn of the year and we want to keep it going."
Newcastle have lost only one of their last nine Premier League games, although they have drawn their last three in succession at St James' Park.
Arsenal led 4-0 at one stage in one of those and the Magpies were seconds away from victory over Tottenham when Aaron Lennon struck at the death, and last weekend's point was claimed despite Pardew's men having to play the final 36 minutes with only 10 men following Ryan Taylor's dismissal.
However, despite a positive series of results, Pardew insists that he has not re-assessed the initial aim for the season and started to look up rather than over his shoulder.
He said: "No. it is just about the next game. Win the next game, that's all we focus on.
"Every point is gold dust in this division, every point, and you have to really, really work hard to get them.
"Between now and the end of the season, we just want to try to get the maximum figure we can."
Newcastle will look to complete a double over the Toffees - Hatem Ben Arfa's superb strike won the day at Goodison Park on September 18 - although they may have to do without key men once again.
Taylor is suspended while Joey Barton, the man he replaced after he aggravated a thigh strain in the warm-up last week, and January loan signing Stephen Ireland, who has picked up a similar problem since returning to training following his knee injury, are rated at 50-50.
Midfielder Danny Guthrie, however, is available after shaking off a hamstring problem, while Shola Ameobi is expected to rejoin the squad wearing a mask to protect his fractured cheekbone.
Pardew said: "The mask causes some problems in terms of pain when he is heading the ball, but he looks like he is coming to terms with that.
"In football, what you don't probably report a lot on is that players do play through pain.
"They play through thigh strains and little aches and pains here and there. They are playing through it all the time.
"You get hardened to that, so a little bit of pain in terms of pressure around his face isn't going to hurt him.
"But the most important thing for him that he is finding is visually with the mask because he sometimes can't see really deep to the sides of him and he is finding that a little bit uncomfortable.
"But we hope by Saturday we will get around that."
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