Davide Santon has warned Newcastle they will have to hit the heights once again if they are to ensure their return to the continental stage is not temporary.
The Magpies earned a place in the Europa League as a result of their fifth-place finish in the Barclays Premier League last season, and will open their attempt to negotiate a way out of the group stage against Maritimo in Madeira on Thursday evening.
In the meantime, they will attempt to kick-start their domestic campaign after a satisfactory, but far from spectacular first few weeks when they travel to Everton on Monday night. He said: "This is a really important game for us because last time, a draw at home against Aston Villa was not fantastic."
Alan Pardew's men are yet to reproduce the flowing football which won them so many points and admirers last season, and while it will be difficult to do that at Goodison Park with the Toffees in fine form themselves, Santon knows they need to start the points total ticking over sooner rather than later.
Santon added: "We want to win because this year we want to stay in a good position and get into Europe again. But we know Everton is a difficult game. Last year, we lost there and so we know that Everton are a good team. But we will go to Everton not for a draw, not for a loss, but for a win. We will be positive."
Newcastle needed a missile from Hatem Ben Arfa to rescue a point against Villa last time out on a disappointing afternoon for Pardew and his players. The manager's problems are compounded this weekend by a growing injury list which has robbed him of three members of his first-choice back five as well as midfield enforcer Cheick Tiote, who has been particularly conspicuous by his absence in recent weeks.
Right-back Danny Simpson damaged a hamstring against Villa and is likely to be out for another fortnight, while keeper Tim Krul and skipper Fabricio Coloccini returned from international duty with elbow and hamstring injuries respectively.
James Perch's return to fitness after a neck problem represents a boost, while Mike Williamson is also available, although Pardew, who asked midfielder Vurnon Anita to drop into defence in the wake of Simpson's untimely departure, has decisions to make.
However, he at least has his regular left-back available with former Inter Milan man Santon having established himself as the man in possession. The 21-year-old Italian has been on Tyneside for just over a year now and has adapted to the English game after a difficult start to his career in the Premier League.
He said: "Last season, the first few months were difficult for me because Serie A and the Premier League is totally different. But now I feel better on the pitch, and more confident so I am enjoying it. I want to help Newcastle keep improving, keep moving forward and be the best we can be. The fans have not seen the best of me yet though. I can still do more."
- Barclays Premier League
- Europa League