JACK Colback is hopeful new-look Newcastle United can mount a renewed challenge for European football this season.
Colback is one of six summer signings to arrive at St James’s Park this summer.
And United manager Alan Pardew, whose side were today taking on Sydney FC in Dunedin, New Zealand, reiterated his belief the Magpies can again compete in the Champions League.
Newcastle have also signed Remy Cabella, Daryl Janmaat, Siem de Jong, Emmanuel Riviere and Ayoze Perez.
Pardew feels the squad is being significantly strengthened after two years of under-investment.
His team were among the sides challenging for a European football in the first half of last season, but the campaign unravelled after the January sale of Yohan Cabaye.
For his part, midfielder Colback, signed from Sunderland, believes the squad being assembled can break into the top eight of the Premier League after last season’s ultimately disappointing 10th-placed finish.
“There’s a lot of quality coming in to add to the quality that’s already here,” Colback said.
“The club had a difficult end to last season, but we’re really looking forward to this season and pushing for good finish.
“We should be looking to break into the top eight.”
The wisdom of the club’s decision to make a 23,000-mile round-trip to New Zealand was questioned by some fans when the two-game tour – Newcastle will also play Wellington Phoenix in the capital on Saturday – was announced.
But Pardew feels the tournament will be important to the club – on and off the pitch.
He said: “It’s always good for players and staff to have new experiences at this time of year.
“It’s important for us to grow our brand. We’re a club who wants to compete in the Champions League.
“We’re trying to do it in a way that’s very difficult, because we’re not throwing vast fortunes at transfers. We can’t afford to do that.
“We’re trying to do it in an educated way and trying to bring in players we think can make that step. This year we’re probably as well set as we have been since I’ve been at the club.”
Pardew also insisted he would field a strong team against A-League team Sydney FC at the 30,000-capacity Forsyth Barr Stadium, with captain Fabricio Coloccini set to make his first appearance of the season.
“We’re certainly going to look at a lot of our younger players towards the end of games, but our senior players are important,” said Pardew. “We just need to get our gameplan, tactically, ready for the season.”
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