TIM Krul says Newcastle United can STILL make an impression on the Premier League – with a little help from Siem de Jong.
Krul and his team-mates are 10th in the division ahead of Saturday’s home game against Southampton.
And there are fears on Tyneside that the only way is down for the managerless team between now and the end of the season.
But Krul – who could only watch in frustration as the club crashed out of both cups during his time out injured with an ankle problem – feels Newcastle can still challenge the teams in the European places.
The 25-year-old cites United’s first-half performance against Chelsea last weekend.
Newcastle, in the temporary charge of John Carver, dominated the game before Oscar put the league leaders in front just before the break.
“I’d strongly disagree with anyone who was saying there’s not much to play for now,” Krul said.
“The Premier League is so tight that if we go on one of those runs like we went on in November, we can be right up there with the top teams in no time.
“We have to believe that, and the way we played in the first half at Chelsea was just about the best we’ve seen.
“I was really impressed with (Remy) Cabella, and (Jack) Colback and (Vurnon) Anita in midfield. I’m really excited for the games to come.”
Summer signing de Jong, Krul’s Dutch countryman, and Gabriel Obertan are closing in on their comebacks from their respective thigh injuries.
And Krul feels that the pair can make a significant impact in the second half of the campaign.
“Obertan is running on the pitch, and Siem de Jong is getting closer too,” said Krul.
“If we can get those players back, it’ll make a difference. Obviously, you shouldn’t put the expectations too high, but we’ve got players to come in who can improve us.
“It’s not nice to be out of the cup, but we’ve got 17 games to go in the Premier League and we have to focus on them now.”
Krul believes 25-year-old de Jong, signed from Ajax, can be the missing link for managerless United in the final third of the pitch.
The goalkeeper has likened the forward to Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas.
“Siem can bring a bit of quality in the final third,” said Krul.
“He’s a great finisher, and especially when he plays just behind the striker.
“He’s amazing, really smart. He just takes up the right positions.
“He’s a little bit like Fabregas in that respect – he can get on the ball and make things happen. He’s also got goals in him, and we need that.
“If you create four or five chances like we did in the first half at Chelsea, you have to be sticking at least one of them away.”