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Newcastle can maintain upward momentum, says defender

Ciaran Clark reckons that the “belief” at Newcastle United can drive the Magpies to improve on their 10th-placed Premier League finish next season.

Rafa Benitez’s men secured their top-flight safety in early April last season, much to the surprise of many, with pundits and punters alike tipping the Tynesiders for the drop earlier in the campaign.

The top-half finish was achieved due to a togetherness and belief that runs right through the core of the squad, according to Republic of Ireland international Clark.

And he has no doubt that if the Magpies carry that feeling into next season, they’ll be looking up rather than down.

“We always believed in our ability; sometimes we went through rough stages and tough spells, but we always believed we’d come out of it and turn it round by keeping doing what we were doing and what we were practising on the training pitch,” the defender told nufc.co.uk.

“Everyone put a massive effort in. It was a long season, but it’s where we wanted to be - to be in the Premier League, playing against the best teams and best players in the world.

“It was up and down, but our aim was just to get as many points on the board as possible and compete against the teams that were around us.

“We managed to do that and we finished up in 10th place, which was unbelievable for us.

“The aim now is we want to improve on what we’ve done. Hopefully we can do that next season, but everyone right now is enjoying their break and looking forward to coming back and cracking on again.”

Meanwhile, Newcastled and Fulham have been linked with moves for Swansea City’s Roque Mesa.

The 29-year-old midfielder made the move to England last summer, signing for Swansea in an £11m deal from Las Palmas.

But his first season at the Liberty Stadium was underwhelming as the Spaniard made just 11 appearances for the Swans before being sent back to Spain on loan, joining Sevilla.

It has been expected that Mesa would make a permanent move to Sevilla and – while they remain keen to seal a deal – there is now interest from the Premier League.

Reports from Spain claim that both Fulham and Newcastle are keen on Mesa as he seeks a move away from the relegated Swans. His contract in Wales runs until 2021, but Mesa is keen to play at a higher level next season. ’.

Elsewhere, Chancel Mbemba is nearing the Newcastle exit door, with Porto in talks to sign the DR Congo international.