Swansea v Newcastle: Alan Pardew encourages Magpies to dream of top-half finish

Newcastle appear to have turned a corner after a slow start to the season

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The Independent Football

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew will not discourage his players from dreaming as they attempt to maintain their places in the upper reaches of the Barclays Premier League table.

The Magpies head for Swansea on Wednesday evening on the back of four successive victories, a run which leaves them in sixth place having briefly climbed to the dizzy heights of fifth on Saturday night.

That is where they finished two seasons ago to the surprise of many, and their struggles last time around, when they ended the campaign in 16th, were in stark contrast.

Owner Mike Ashley has set Pardew the target of a top-half finish this season, and while the manager knows how quickly things can change, he has no problem with his players looking significantly higher than that.

He said: "You kind of re-assess it every game, really. Our goals for this game will be to be confident to get a win, whereas we might not have been that confident four or five weeks ago.

"There's that confidence and you start looking at the table and you start looking at results - I'm sure my players were looking on Sunday to see if anyone was going to jump above us, Southampton, were they going to win at Chelsea?

"I can't say that isn't the case. There's an excitement about it and of course, as the manager, I want to breed that in and drive that on."

Newcastle's reward for making it into the top five two seasons ago was un unexpected Europa League campaign, and one which Pardew freely admits significantly affected their domestic form last season.

In the circumstances he could be forgiven for being wary of a repeat, although that is simply not on his current agenda.

The 52-year-old said: "I am not even going to think about it at this stage.

"This is Newcastle, we like to raise our expectations way beyond the realism of where we are at times.

"But it's great at the moment. Our fans must be enjoying it - I hope they are because I think the team is playing with a commitment and a style that's good."

Swansea are involved in the Europa League this season after their League Cup triumph and have already played seven more games than the Magpies, a gruelling schedule which has cost them the services of Michu, Wilfried Bony and Angel Rangel.

By contrast, Pardew has no injury problems ahead of the trip to South Wales.

He said: "Top 10, top six, top five, whatever, for a club like ours we can't suffer injuries to key players.

Last year we did; this year we haven't so far and, touch wood, I hope that continues.

"But there will be injuries come, there's no doubt about that, and I think we are in a little bit better position than whenever I have been here in the last three years to cope and I hope that's proven."