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The centre-back feels that positive preparations for the club are vital as they look to build upon a fifth-place finish last term and compete in the Europa League

Newcastle United defender Mike Williamson believes him and his team-mates must work hard during pre-season so they can breed a winning mentality ahead of the new Premier League season.

Having surprised many by clinching a fifth-place finish last term, the former Portsmouth man is keen for the team to maintain their impressive form.

And Williamson believes a positive string of results during the off-season are just as important as players looking to impress the manager, with high confidence needed to heading into the new season.

Williamson told the club's official website: "It's been enjoyable. The training has been tough but we've had a bit of rest time too.

"Our second game is tonight so hopefully we'll get a good run-out and the result as well.

"It's about physically and mentally getting up to scratch, but everyone wants to get into the winning mentality - that's the way we work.

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"The gaffer wants us to breed that. We have to be looking to win every time we step out on the pitch, regardless of whether it's a friendly or a competitive fixture.

"Everyone is vying for places at the moment and trying to impress the manager - this is a big few weeks for the players."

Newcastle beat AS Monaco on Monday night, thanks to a first-half Demba Ba header, and Williamson believes such opposition are good preparation for the club's European fixtures this coming year, with the team set Europa League qualifiers at the end of the August.

"There are few players in our squad - including myself - who have never experienced playing in a European fixture," the former Watford player continued.

"But these sort of friendlies, against the likes of Monaco and Fenerbahce, set you up nicely. You get to play a couple of different teams with a different style of play and that will stand us in good stead for the season ahead."

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