Newcastle boss Alan Pardew remains hopeful his team can finish the season on a high and earn a ‘surprise’ European place.
Tipped by many pre-season to be in the English Premier League relegation battle, Newcastle sit sixth and are just two points adrift of Chelsea, who occupy the Europa League place.
Pardew, speaking ahead of his side’s trip to West Bromwich Albion on Sunday, said his team were concentrating on finishing the league campaign strongly.
“We’re pretty much focused on the nine games that remain. It’s a quarter of the season and we need to finish as well as we’ve done in the first three quarters because we’ve been excellent,” he said on Friday.
“The players’ attitude and application has been first class. If we can do that for nine more games we might surprise ourselves.”
West Brom are a comfortable 13 points clear of the bottom three, but they have won just four of 14 league home matches this campaign.
Pardew said the trip The Hawthorns to face Roy Hodgson’s team was one of the most difficult in the Premier League.
“It’s a tough game, I think West Brom at home is one of the toughest fixtures in the premiership,” Pardew said.
“They’ve had some great results. We are very much on our guard to make sure we get something out of the game.”
Pardew also warned his players they needed to continue performing or risk being on the wrong end of surprise defeats.
“We’ve come up against every shape and size in the premiership, and that’s the beauty of it,” Pardew said.
“You get different types of style with teams whether they’re in form or out of form and you have to deal with all of those different hurdles, and for the best part of 29 games we’ve done that – and done it well.
“And for nine more games that’s what we need to do. We can’t take our eye off one moment in one game because you’re going to get punished.
“Teams are now fighting for their lives, fighting for safety or fighting for Europe or the championship, so everybody is in that home run.”