Roy Keane and Micah Richards agree on Newcastle United’s Champions League hopes

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The Magpies hopes of success were addressed during Sky Sports coverage of Chelsea’s home draw with Liverpool.

Newcastle United can benefit from the ‘feel-good factor’ at St James Park and challenge for a place in the top four of the Premier League this season.

That was the verdict of Sky Sports pundits Roy Keane and Micah Richards as they assessed the Magpies chances of replicating the remarkable progress they made last season when Eddie Howe’s side surpassed all expectations to land a place in the Champions League.

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The additions of AC Milan midfielder Sandro Tonali, Southampton full-back Tino Livramento and Leicester City winger Harvey Barnes have strengthened Howe’s squad ahead of a busy season and there are hopes the United boss can make at least one more signing before the summer transfer window comes to a close next month.

The Magpies got their season off to an explosive start with a 5-1 hammering of Aston Villa on Saturday evening and both Keane and Richards were left impressed by the current situation at St James Park - but insisted there is still work to do before United can consider themselves as genuine contenders for the Premier League title.

“Newcastle are definitely in the mix for top four, I think they’ve got stronger,” the former Manchester United captain told the broadcaster in the aftermath of Liverpool’s draw at Chelsea.

“The recruitment has been excellent. Ok, they’ve got different challenges this year with the Champions League. The feel-good factor is there at Newcastle, the manager is proving to be an absolutely brilliant manager.”

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Richards agreed the Magpies are realistic challengers for a place in the top four this season but insisted Eddie Howe is ‘one or two’ short of being able to force his side into contention to become Premier League champions.

“I think they’ll challenge the top four, I don’t think they’ll challenge for the title. I think they’re probably still one or two short of having a real chance of even thinking about that. They’ll focus on what they need to do. Top four is realistic for them. They’ve brought in some great players though - Tonali was absolutely excellent. Newcastle, I think, top four.”

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