Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

We Can Match Any Side Next Season. We Will Have No Fear JAMES PERCH; Versatile Star Insists Magpies Have Nothing to Be Afraid of in Europe

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

We Can Match Any Side Next Season. We Will Have No Fear JAMES PERCH; Versatile Star Insists Magpies Have Nothing to Be Afraid of in Europe

Article excerpt

Byline: LEE RYDER

JAMES PERCH feels the passion that burns ferociously for Newcastle United on Tyneside can fuel their aspirations to become European kingpins.

The United hero won over hearts and minds at St James' Park after playing his part in the second half of last season to help push Newcastle back into Continental competition.

Now with Geordie fans enthused about a return to the big stage in Europe via the Europa League, Perch believes United shouldn't hold any fear of the big guns.

And he reckons that few sides in the competition will relish coming to a packed St James' for Euro nights.

Perch said: "We feel we are more than capable of matching up with them. We have no fear.

"We will be ready for them and it will be a great challenge."

United fans enjoyed their best campaign since 2005/06 last term and Perch experienced living in a city that was buzzing with energy after finishing fifth and narrowly missing out on a place on the top four.

Perch's popularity was boosted massively last term after featuring in the side that helped pick up six wins in a row to help bank a Europa League spot.

But, while Perch admits he is flattered to be stopped by fans in and around the city while on a day off, he said: "The fans always come up to us when we are around the town.

"They wish all the best or hoping we beat certain teams. It's good when they are like that.

"It means a lot because we know we'll have 50,000 there every other week, so we have to do our best for them."

Perch, who hails from Mansfield originally, was able to enjoy a quieter life as Nottingham Forest captain two years ago. And reflecting on how his lifestyle has changed since arriving on Tyneside, he said: "It is different to Nottingham.

"There you have Forest and County, cricket and ice hockey. It's not as full on as Newcastle.

"Newcastle is a one-club city. Everybody wants to follow Newcastle.

"And there's nothing else around."

One of the first main targets for the Magpies will be to book their place in the group stages of the Europa League.

They take part in the play-off round later this month, but Perch knows what the big prize is on offer. …

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