Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has challenged his players to avoid an unwanted hat-trick as he desperately attempts to inject new life into their season ahead of a trip to his former club Saints.

The Magpies slipped to a second successive home defeat and into the bottom half of the Premier League table on Saturday when Swansea left St James’ Park with a deserved 2-1 victory.

Coupled with last Sunday’s 1-0 loss to West Ham, the latest setback left the natives in a restless mood as hopes of matching last season’s top-five finish were dealt a further blow.

When they arrive at St Mary’s on Sunday the Magpies and their manager, axed by Saints in 2010, will still be searching for a first away league victory of the campaign.

But Pardew’s men will run out in front of their home fans once again on Thursday to face Portuguese outfit Maritimo in a game which could clinch their progression to the knockout stage of the Europa League, and the 51-year-old is hoping that will be the springboard they need.

He said: “We certainly don’t want to lose three home games on the trot, that would be a blow. It’s a big game for us because if we can win it, it guarantees qualification, and that’s what we need to do, get one hurdle out of the way and then look for our first win away from home in the Premier League in the next game. They are the two immediate hurdles in front of us.”


Full story in today's Daily Echo