Pardew focused on Prem survival
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has warned his players that they must not let playing in the Europa League affect their Premier League performances.
Although the Magpies were unable to repeat the consistency of last term's outstanding top flight form, their European adventure has brought a positive glow to their campaign.
Thursday brings another eagerly-anticipated trip to Portugal, for a meeting with two-time European Cup winners Benfica.
Yet the glamour has been tarnished either side of the international break.
A controversial defeat at Wigan has been followed by a four-goal hammering at Manchester City that leaves Pardew and his players just four points above the drop zone, close enough to bring owner Mike Ashley into a nervous sweat.
So, while Pardew is looking forward to an outing in the Stadium of Light, concerns on the home front are pressing.
"We have done well in the Europa League, but it can't detract from the Premier League," he said.
"We have to make sure we are safe.
"We need two victories at least, and maybe a third or a fourth to get ourselves into a strong position."
Yet the drain on his players is clear for all to see, with Cheick Tiote and Davide Santon amongst the players to miss out through injury on Saturday.
"The Europa League is going to put us under pressure, because we are missing some big players at the moment," said Pardew.
"But we didn't do ourselves any favours against City because we were not aggressive enough."