NEWCASTLE midfielder Cheik Tiote is determined to sign off in style before he heads to the African Cup of Nations.
The midfielder is confident that the Magpies will still be in the running for a European place when he returns to England.
Alan Pardew’s side take on Manchester United at the Sports Direct Arena on Wednesday night looking to beat Sir Alex Ferguson’s Premier League champions at home for the first time in a decade
Newcastle are in seventh place, four points behind Liverpool, who beat them 3-1 at Anfield on Friday night.
Tiote – who fears this will be his last game before he has to link up with his Ivory Coast team-mates ahead of the tournament – believes a challenge for a European place is still on the cards.
“It’s realistic to talk about a challenge for Europe,” said Tiote. “We’re still in a good position in the table. If we play like we know we can, and how we started the season, it’s possible and we can do something.
“I still think we can achieve Europe this season.
The Manchester United fixture hasn’t been kind to Newcastle in recent years, with their last success the 4-3 victory under Sir Bobby Robson in September 2001 when Laurent Robert and Rob Lee were among the scorers.
Tiote was frustrated at the Liverpool defeat, as United had briefly led at Anfield.
He is ready to take that frustration on Ferguson’s side, who he believes are beatable at St James’s Park.
“What happened at Liverpool’s gone, and we have a chance to start the year with a bang against Man United,” said Tiote. “It’s a big, big game for us.”
Pardew had hoped to have Tiote – and Senegal interantional Demba Ba – available until the middle of the month.
But Tiote is wanted for a training camp in Abu Dhabi, where they will play warm-up games against Tunisia on January 13 and Libya four days later.
“It’s a tough month coming up, and I’m sad to be missing part of it,” said the 25-year-old. “But I want to play for my country too.”