Goalkeeper Tim Krul has challenged Newcastle to prove they are worth a return to the Champions League - by beating Stoke and Wigan.
While title-chasing Manchester City and FA Cup finalists Chelsea may yet stand between Alan Pardew's men and their top-four dreams, Krul insists that victory over Stoke this Saturday and resurgent Wigan, who have beaten leaders Manchester United and Arsenal in their last two games, at the DW Stadium a week later will be equally important.
The 24-year-old Holland international told the Journal: "We are up there, but if you don't win against Stoke and Wigan, you don't deserve to be up there. We will look at the next two games and hope that we get the results that we need."
He added: "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."
Newcastle will head into the Stoke game on the back of five successive league victories and with a comprehensive 3-1 win at the Britannia Stadium in October, courtesy of a Demba Ba hat-trick, already under their belts.