Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

United Stoked Up for Europa League; Magpies Stoked Up for Visit of Anzhi

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

United Stoked Up for Europa League; Magpies Stoked Up for Visit of Anzhi

Article excerpt

Byline: Neil Cameron ? (0191) 201-6113 ?

STEVEN Taylor believes Newcastle United's dramatic win over Stoke City has set his side up perfectly for Thursday's European tie with Anzhi Makachkala.

The in-form defender, who is deservedly been linked with an England call-up, revealed Alan Pardew told his players to "really go for it" against the Russians in the wake of Sunday's vital 2-1 Premier League victory at St James' Park, secured thanks to Papiss Cisse's lastminute winner.

Newcastle sit in 13th place, their highest position in months, and on 33 points, the same mark as Fulham who are tenth.

United manager Pardew appeared to view the weekend's result as a watershed moment as relegation is now highly unlikely. It means his team can fully concentrate on a top-ten finish as well as securing a Europa League quarter-final place in three days' time, rather than topflight survival.

It is a message that has been heard loud and clear by his players. Taylor said: "The manager wanted us to get a positive result on Sunday because he wanted us to move on to Thursday and really go for it. We can do that now.

"We had a chat at the end of the game as a team and we're now looking upwards. With the players we have, and the performance we showed against Stoke, there is no reason why we can't do that.

"You could see the relief all around when the winning goal went in.

"The lads were saying it was difficult to break them down, and that they came here and defended very well. But it was one of those games where we didn't find the cutting edge until the hour mark, and then we started to open them up."

The past two months have not only been positive for Newcastle United as a whole, despite one or two setbacks, this has also been Taylor's best period for some time.

First and foremost the centre-half is fit and he has taken over the role of Newcastle's most important defender, a title once held by the injured Fabricio Coloccini. It is little wonder that Roy Hodgson is considering bringing him into the international squad. "I thought he gave a performance of England standard. …

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