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The Netherlands international has thrown down the gauntlet to his team-mates to pick up maximum points in their next two games as they push for a top four finish

Newcastle keeper Tim Krul believes his side must beat Stoke City and Wigan Athletic if they are to earn the right to play Champions League football next season.

The Magpies currently lie in fifth place in the Premier League, with only goal difference separating them and Tottenham in fourth.

Liverpool’s FA Cup final berth means Alan Pardew’s side will play Europa League football next season if they achieve a top-six finish, but Krul has urged his side to go one better and break into the top four, with maximum points against Stoke and Wigan their top priority.

The 24-year-old told the Journal: "What an opportunity we have got - things are going great at the moment.

"I have been saying for years that I think Newcastle are a top-six side and maybe people didn't see it. But now we are there, and hopefully we can stay there.

"Liverpool's win was great news for us and it is huge for the club to be back in Europe."

Despite Newcastle's impressive form this campaign, Krul is adamant that the season will count for nothing if they fail to record wins in their next two games - particularly with fixtures against Manchester City, Chelsea and Everton all left to play.

"We are up there, but if you don't win against Stoke and Wigan, you don't deserve to be up there," he added.

"We will look at the next two games and hope that we get the results that we need. Our attitude is that if we can't beat Stoke, we don't deserve to get into the Champions League.

"We just need to keep the pressure on the top teams. Stoke at home and Wigan away are massive games for us."

The Magpies host Tony Pulis’ side on Saturday on the back of five successive victories, and will be hoping to complete a double over the Potters after a Demba Ba hat-trick gave them a 3-1 victory in the reverse fixture at the Britannia Stadium last year.

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