BIRTHDAY boy Danny Guthrie says Newcastle United must already have one eye on next season if they are to keep challenging the Premier League’s elite.
The Magpies go into this weekend’s home clash with Stoke sitting fifth in the table, ahead of Champions League semi-finalists Chelsea and level on points with Tottenham.
United have been the top flight’s surprise package of the season and are on the verge of qualifying to play European football next campaign.
It’s been a remarkable turnaround in fortunes for a side that was written off as possible relegation candidates by some last summer.
But an influx of new signings, such as Yohan Cabaye and Demba Ba, have taken the league by storm and propelled Newcastle to the dizzy heights of challenging for a top-four finish.
Guthrie, however, has warned the club they can’t rest on their laurels - and says they must look to strengthen the squad again in the summer if they are to maintain their new-found success.
“We will have to build in the summer,” said the midfielder, 25 today
“Every team gets stronger in the summer, so we will have to keep up.
“If we get a top six finish then the next season is always important as you don’t want to fall below the standards you have set.”
Guthrie, ironically, may be one of the players who leaves the club at the end of the season.
The schemer is out of contract in the summer, and has attracted attention from the likes of Aston Villa as he ponders his future.
He has put talks over a new deal at St James’s Park on hold until the end of the campaign, but insists he is happy on Tyneside.
The former Liverpool man has played a key role in United’s success, both on the pitch and off it, helping to integrate the foreign signings like Cabaye, Ba, Papiss Demba Cisse and Sylvain Marveaux into the club
“There’s a good vibe around the changing room and a good spirit, as has been shown on the pitch,” added Guthrie.
“A couple of lads have come in who haven’t spoken English but they’ve been made to feel very welcome.”