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Pardew: Newcastle are a year ahead of schedule

The Magpies' manager also revealed that one of the keys to his team's success this season has been how the new players have settled into the squad at the Sports Direct Arena

Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew has admitted that he did not expect  to compete for a European qualification place in the Premier League until next season.

The Magpies currently occupy sixth place in the top flight, trailing fifth-placed Chelsea, and definite Europa League qualification, only on goal difference.

Pardew insisted that his players will not rest on their laurels despite their unexpected success so far and urged them to take the opportunity to play on the continental stage.

"I think we're a year ahead of schedule," Pardew told The Daily Mirror. "I didn't expect us to be fighting as close as we are at the moment for a European spot, but we're going to take the chance in front of us if we can.

"Football doesn't often put an opportunity in front of you, so you've got to try to grasp it. I've been saying that to the players.

"The target was to be in contention for Europe next season, now we find ourselves in contention for Europe this year."

The 50-year-old highlighted Sunday's win against Liverpool as an example of the Magpies' ability to win important matches this season, having also picked up points against the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham.

"We find ourselves in a great position after the result on Sunday [against Liverpool]," Pardew added. "We've got to try take the opportunity now.

"One of the keys has been the way the new players have settled. Victories have come at crucial times and we've been able to bounce back from defeats, some heavy ones as well, with good results."

Pardew emphasised the importance of utilising the whole Newcastle squad but admitted that a few "outstanding" players had stood out for the club this season.

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"All the squad have played a part," Pardew maintained. "That doesn't always happen at a team.

"Players have come in and done as well as the ones that have gone out, and I've not lost a wink of sleep over selecting someone over somebody else and that's important.

"You have to say we've had outstanding players, and you need that in the Premier League to achieve anything.

"You can't get those results without outstanding players - that's what we've got."

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