Eddie Howe responds to Newcastle United claim made by Pep Guardiola

Eddie Howe’s responded to Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola – after he labelled Newcastle United as “contenders”.

Howe has refused to discuss his fourth-placed team’s chances of securing a top-four place. However, Guardiola last weekend spoke of Howe’s side as credible contenders for Champions League football.

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"They're a contender, a contender to be there,” said Guardiola, whose side drew 3-3 with United at St James’s Park in August. “The manager’s Eddie Howe – and you know how good he is. With the new players that come, and the way they play, brave.

"There’ll be a lot of teams fighting for the Champions League, fighting for the title. Look now, Newcastle is another part of this, is already there.

"I saw them last weekend against Tottenham. I see the physicality we faced, we played them in the third game of the season. Imagine this team, Newcastle, with one game a week, with no European competition?”

Howe was asked about Guardiola’s comments ahead of Sunday’s game against Southampton.

"I'd much rather people said nice things about us than not,” said Howe. “But I'm in control of that – and it doesn't really change anything.

Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe with Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola at St James's Park last December.

"It's nice to hear people's opinions of us if they're positive, and, if they're not, that's up to them. It doesn't change anything about what we're doing. Only we can prove whether we're contenders or not – and we have to do on a weekly basis."

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City are second in the Premier League, and five points ahead of Newcastle.