NEWCASTLE boss Alan Pardew says he won’t stop Newcastle United’s players dreaming of a return to Europe.
But he demands that their immediate focus doesn’t shift from domestic football.
Pardew’s side will take on Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium tonight knowing a fifth successive win could take the club into the top four of the Premier League.
The form has raised hopes of a repeat of two seasons ago, when the team finished fifth and qualified for the Europa League.
Pardew, mindful of the toll injuries and suspensions could take on his squad over the hectic festive period, has been keen to dampen expectations on Tyneside in recent weeks. But he admits the pre-season goal of a top-10 finish could be revised upwards.
“You kind of reassess it every game, really,” said Pardew.
“For this game we will be confident, 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, of course.”
Newcastle’s gruelling European campaign last term took a toll on the club’s domestic form.
Swansea are in the competition this season after winning the Capital One Cup, and they have already played seven more games than Newcastle.
Manager Brian Laudrup has lost the likes of Michu, Wilfried Bony and Angel Rangel to injury.
And Pardew – who lost a series of players last season – is just glad that he has a fully-fit squad, with Ryan Taylor, a long-term absentee, the only player not available.
“Top 10, top six, top five, whatever, for a club like ours, we can’t suffer injuries to key players,” said Pardew.
“Last year, we did. This year, we haven’t so far, and touch wood, I hope that continues.”