ALAN Pardew today challenged his rejuvenated Newcastle United side to “attack” the Premier League – and banish all thoughts of relegation.
The Magpies visit fourth-placed Tottenham on Saturday, buoyed by back-to-back victories over Aston Villa and Chelsea.
The Tynesiders, having teetered above the drop zone for much of the campaign, are now six points clear of the bottom three in 15th place.
And cautiously optimistic manager Pardew is now looking up the table for the first time in months.
“You look at us and think ‘well, we’re not out of it yet’,” Pardew said. “But you look above us, and we’re not that far away from Stoke – three points.
“That’s what we’ve got to do now – attack the league and see where we can end up.”
Pardew will have Cheik Tiote available to face Spurs after the midfielder’s return from the African Cup of Nations this week, following Ivory Coast’s quarter-final exit.
However, the game will come too soon for forward Hatem Ben Arfa, who is close to a comeback after a long-term hamstring problem.
Tiote and Ben Arfa, hugely influential players last season, were automatic starters earlier in the campaign.
But the form of Newcastle’s players – including new signings Moussa Sissoko and Yoan Gouffran – against Chelsea and Villa means Pardew will be reluctant to change a winning team.
Asked if they will have to fight to return to the starting line-up, Pardew simply said: “Correct.”
Meanwhile, Emmamuel Adebayor, in the Togo side knocked ouf of the African Cup of Nations by Burkina Faso last week, could lead the line for Spurs after returning from South Africa.
Tottenham’s only other senior striker, Jermain Defoe, suffered an ankle injury at West Brom on Sunday and could face a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
Adebayor scored in the corresponding fixture at White Hart Lane last season, when Newcastle were thumped 5-0.