Belfast Telegraph

Rodgers backs Magpies for top four

Brendan Rodgers believes Papiss Cisse can fire Newcastle into the Champions League after watching the striker's double sink his Swansea side at the Liberty Stadium.

The Senegal international struck his eighth and ninth goals in just eight games as the Magpies registered a 2-0 win for a fourth-straight victory, which puts them in serious contention for a top-four finish in the Barclays Premier League.

When asked if Cisse could secure Newcastle a top-four finish, Rodgers said: "There is no question, having seen him live. You can see why they spent their money on him. His movement was outstanding."

Cisse's finishing prowess was once again on show on Good Friday as he opened the scoring in just the fifth minute with a low drive beyond Swans goalkeeper Michel Vorm, before a brilliant delicate chip sealed the win with 21 minutes remaining.

"Ashley Williams and Steven Caulker were outstanding in defence for us but his movement to clear space and his double runs to get on the ball were brilliant," Rodgers continued.

"He is a real player, he has great movement, mobility and size and his second finish was incredible, the way he was able to dig that out.

"They were two terrific passes for him by (Yohan) Cabaye, and the finishes were outstanding."

With Tottenham being held to a draw by Sunderland, Newcastle will head into Monday's meeting with Bolton a maximum of three points off fourth place, and the gap may be as little as two points should Arsenal lose to Manchester City on Sunday.

Defender Danny Simpson admits their league position has caught Alan Pardew's squad by surprise, but has warned they cannot afford to lose focus if they are to finish the job.

"We don't want to get sucked into the Champions League talk yet. It's nice to know people are saying that but there's a long way to go yet," he said.

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