Tiote backs Newcastle for top-six finish

The Ivory Coast international argues that, with most of the squad who reached fifth in 2011-12 still at St James's Park, Europa League qualification can be achieved again
Newcastle United midfielder Cheikh Tiote believes that the club can finish in the top six this season.

The Ivorian was part of the Magpies side who finished fifth in 2011-12 and qualified for the Europa League but Alan Pardew's men endured a miserable campaign last time out, finishing 16th after flirting with relegation, and have only made one senior signing this summer in the form of loanee Loic Remy.

Tiote insists, however, that he and his team-mates can bounce back from last season's disappointment.

"It is almost the same group of players here as two years ago," the Ivory Coast international told The Evening Chronicle. "We know that we have a lot of talent and what we can do.

"We showed two years ago that we can compete for the top places in the Premier League. Now we are hoping that we can do that again."

Newcastle get their Premier League campaign under way on Monday against last season's runners-up, Manchester City and, while Tiote admits that pre-season did not go as well as planned, the squad are ready for their first competitive test.

"We are feeling much better now," he continued. "We've worked harder than last year.

"Pre-season is behind us now. We've played friendly games and we've wanted to win every single one. We are in the right frame of mind. Physically we are in the best state to start the season."