European football the ‘greatest reward’ Pardew can give loyal Toon fans

THANKS ... Alan Pardew applauds Newcastle's fans after last weekend's win over Liverpool.
THANKS ... Alan Pardew applauds Newcastle's fans after last weekend's win over Liverpool.

ALAN Pardew’s looking for Newcastle United to take another huge stride towards European football at Swansea City.

The club is level on points in the Premier League with fifth-placed Chelsea ahead of their Good Friday visit to the Liberty Stadium.

With Roberto Di Matteo’s side not playing until Saturday, when they entertain relegation-threatened Wigan, Newcastle – who beat Liverpool 2-0 last weekend – can move above them if they take a point or more from Swansea.

And Newcastle will be well-supported at the Liberty Stadium, despite the 350-mile journey.

“The greatest reward I can give them is European football,” Pardew told the Gazette. “It’ll be lovely to see them.“

Crucially, fifth place guarantees entry to the Europa League, with sixth at the mercy of the Liverpool-Everton FA Cup semi-final

Chelsea are still in the Champions League and FA Cup, and their league form could be affected by the intensity of their fixture list.

However, Pardew, pictured, can only influence his own team’s results, and he’s wary of Brendan Rodgers’s 11th-placed side – the surprise package of this season’s Premier League season along with another of the newly-promoted sides, Norwich City.

“It’s a tough place to go,” said Pardew. “They’ve done brilliantly at home. They keep the ball well and move you around. It’s going to be a difficult game.”

Newcastle fans are already dreaming of a European campaign.

The club last competed on the continent five seasons ago, but Pardew is reluctant to look beyond the Swansea fixture.

“We’ve had a focus all year about the next game,” said Pardew. “We shouldn’t get away from that, and neither should our fans.

“They can dream of the Champions League, or winning the league – I don’t mind. It’s great for them that we’re in the mix. We’ll just go to the next game.”

Twitter: @milesstarforth