Eddie Howe sets twin aims for Newcastle United ahead of West Ham clash

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The Newcastle United manager has discussed his targets for the remainder of the Premier League season.

Eddie Howe has set out his plans for the remainder of the season as Newcastle United look to force their way back into European competition.

Champions League group stages meetings with AC Milan, Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain helped bring an end to a decade-long wait for European football to return to St James Park - and despite suffering with a lengthy list of injuries, the Magpies are still within touching distance of a place in the top seven.  

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Although securing an immediate return to the Champions League is a near impossible task, United can push for a place in the Europa League and Europa Conference league between now and the end of the season. Howe hit back at claims his side’s season is over - and insisted the Magpies are firmly focused on ‘building and finding positive momentum’ to take in the end of the campaign and beyond.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Howe said: “With the ten games we have, I think it’s a really good opportunity to finish the season strongly.  What we are looking for is consistency, consistency in our performance, consistency of results and I think it’s a good chance to build also for next year and to find our best rhythm back.

“Hopefully, we will welcome some key players back from injury and we can feel that strength towards the end of the season.  I think there’s a few quotes out there that our season is over and all things like that.  Certainly, internally, we are not looking at it like that at all.  We are focused on building and finding positive momentum.”

Saturday lunchtime’s meeting with West Ham United offers Howe and his players an opportunity to close the gap on one of their main contenders for a place in Europe. The Hammers will arrive on Tyneside four points and three places above Newcastle - but Howe is confident his side can shine as they return to St James Park for the first time since a 3-0 win against Wolves earlier this month.

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“We want to close that gap,” admitted Howe. “They’re a very difficult team to play against, a very dangerous team, they’ve done well in European competition and they’ve found some good Premier League form during the season.  They’ve got some dangerous players.  But we are back at home, it feels like a long time since we have played at St James Park.  We left on a good note on our last game there and we are desperate to pick that up again.”

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