Mike Ashley wants a shot at Champions League at Newcastle

EURO FATE ... Newcastle manager Alan Pardew is waiting on the club's Europa League draw.

EURO FATE ... Newcastle manager Alan Pardew is waiting on the club's Europa League draw.

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MIKE Ashley wants Newcastle United to give Champions League qualification “a real go” this season.

The club came close to returning to the competition last term when they finished fifth, just outside the qualifying spots.

“Mike wants to give it a real go,” said Pardew.

“He got excited about what we did last year.

“We got very, very close to the Champions League and think it has egged him on to really give it a go.”

If Newcastle are to again challenge for a Champions League place, Pardew must keep his squad intact – and add to it in the summer transfer window.

Work is ongoing in the transfer market while Pardew has been open about the battle he faces a battle to hold on to his players given the wages on offer elsewhere.

But he says he’s “quietly confident” of keeping the likes of Demba Ba and Cheik Tiote, despite interest from a number of clubs.

Asked about players leaving, Pardew said: “I don’t see that – I’m quietly confident that we’ll keep our players.”

SEE Wednesday’s Mail for full story