ALAN Pardew’s looking for Newcastle United to conquer Europe – after the club fortified its Premier League position.
Pardew’s side moved nine points clear of the relegation zone after yesterday’s 2-1 home win over Stoke City.
Newcastle are now level on points with 10th-placed Fulham with nine games left to play.
And Pardew – whose team take on Anzhi Makhachkala on Thursday night – says the club’s upturn in domestic fortunes has given him the freedom to attack the Europa League, where they are just 90 minutes away from the quarter-finals.
United drew 0-0 against the Russian club in Moscow last week – and Pardew will field his strongest possible team in the return at St James’s Park.
Up to now, the Premier League has been prioritised over Europe given the team’s previously precarious position, but Sunday’s domestic fixture against Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium isn’t on his mind.
“It was a massive win for us, and sets up Thursday night for a special evening.” Pardew told SportMail.
“Our fans have earned the right to get the place as full as we can. The margins are so small against them, we need every advantage.
“It gives me the luxury of making Anzhi my priority – not Wigan. It’ll be Thursday night. God willing, we’ll get a great win.”
Newcastle are still some way off the 40-point mark which traditionally is enough to secure another season of top-flight football, but Pardew is upbeat ahead of the remaining nine league games.
“To be honest, I think we are done,” he said. “You have got to get 40 points, of course, but we are now seven points from that with nine games left.
“You’d expect this team to follow through with the standard it has got now to be able to do that.
“But the bigger picture is to finish strongly like Everton (last season) and take it into next year, and we are showing some good signs in terms of doing that.
“We are looking no further than Thursday – we’ve got a great opportunity in that competition. We’re in the last 16 in Europe.”