ALAN Pardew’s looking for his Newcastle United side to take another huge stride towards European football at Swansea City.
The club is level on points in the Premier League with fifth-placed Chelsea ahead of their Good Friday visit to the Liberty Stadium.
With Roberto Di Matteo’s side not playing until Saturday, when they entertain relegation-threatened Wigan Athletic, Newcastle - who beat Liverpool 2-0 last weekend - can move above them if they take a point or more from Swansea.
Crucially, fifth place guarantees entry to the Europa League, with sixth at the mercy of the Liverpool-Everton FA Cup semi-final
And with Chelsea still in the Champions League and FA Cup, the hope on Tyneside is that their league form could suffer, such is the intensity of their upcoming fixture list.
However, Pardew can only influence his own team’s results, and he’s wary of Brendan Rodgers’s 11th-placed side, the surprise package of this season’s Premier League season along with another of the newly-promoted sides, Norwich City, beaten at St James’s Park last month.
They have lost just three league games all season at the Liberty Stadium, where United will be backed by a healthy travelling contingent.
“It’s a tough place to go,” Pardew told SportMail.
“They’ve done brilliantly at home.
“They keep the ball well and move you around. It’s going to be a difficult game.
“It’ll be lovely to see them. The greatest reward I can give them is European football.”
Newcastle fans are already dreaming of a European campaign.
The club last competed on the continent five seasons ago, and qualifying for the Europa League is the aim, though United aren’t completely out of the running for a Champions League place, with Tottenham Hotspur just five points ahead of them.
However, Pardew isn’t looking beyond the Swansea fixture.
“We’ve had a focus all year about the next game,” said Pardew.
“We shouldn’t get away from that, and neither should our fans.
“They can dream of the Champions League, or winning the league - I don’t mind.
It’s great for them that we’re in the mix.
We’ll just go to the next game.”