Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Pardew craving three points

Alan Pardew has set his sights on three points against Fulham

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew sees it as vital that his team get back to winning ways in Sunday's Barclays Premier League home clash with Fulham.

The Magpies go into the contest off the back of Thursday night's 3-1 Europa League quarter-final first-leg defeat at Benfica - their third successive loss, after they were beaten 4-0 at Manchester City and 2-1 at Wigan before that in the league. Those top-flight reverses have left the Tyneside outfit just three points clear of the relegation zone.

And Pardew is in no doubt about the importance of Newcastle making the most of their return to St James' Park - both in terms of their league position, and with a view to the second leg against Benfica which follows on Thursday. "The Fulham game is an important one for us, there is no doubt about that," Pardew told Press Association Sport.

Pardew, whose side complete a hat-trick of home fixtures by hosting derby rivals Sunderland after the Benfica return leg, added: "We want to set ourselves up for Thursday - probably to do that, we are going to need to win."

Although Newcastle have had to travel to Portugal and back this week, recent evidence would suggest that fatigue within the camp is not something Pardew needs to worry too much about.

In February, the Magpies beat Southampton 4-2 on the Sunday that immediately followed their Thursday night Europa League last-32 clash with Metalist Kharkiv in Ukraine.

And last month they repeated the trick, defeating Stoke 2-1 three days after playing in Russia against Anzhi Makhachkala in the last 16.

It is a pattern Pardew is hoping continues.

"We had a tough game against Benfica," the 51-year-old said.

"But it was just as tough as some of the other games we have had, and there is no reason why we can't show our strength on the pitch on Sunday."

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