Tim Krul insists Newcastle go into the second half of the season with plenty to play for as they target F.A Cup success and Europa League qualification.
The Magpies enjoyed an excellent first half to the season and, despite last week’s humbling 5-2 defeat against Fulham, sit in sixth position, level on points with fifth placed Arsenal and just five points behind Chelsea, who occupy the fourth and final Champions League place.
After that defeat Alan Pardew’s side flew to Tenerife for a week of warm weather training, but Krul says it back to business after the break, starting with their F.A Cup 4th round fixture against Brighton on Saturday.
"It’s been a heavy period, and I think it was perfect timing to get the lads together again." he told reporters.
“It was a fantastic team-bonding trip. It’s an important week. We would love to stay in the FA Cup, and then we’ve got Blackburn and Aston Villa (in the Premier League).
“It’s all about a reaction from last weekend. Everybody’s up for it, and willing to show that was a one-off.
“We have to get back on a winning streak against Brighton. We’ve seen some clips of them. It’s a nice stadium, and a good pitch, and they’re a footballing team,” he added.
Newcastle were handed a timely boost when Senegal crashed out of the Africa Cup of Nations, meaning key striker Demba Ba and new signing Papiss Demba Cisse will return to the North East sooner than expected.
However the pair won’t feature in the game against Brighton and are a doubt for the mid-week league fixture against Blackburn, but will certainly return for against Villa next Saturday.
The Toon could have used the attacking duo in their last league outing against Fulham, where they shipped five second half goals having taken the lead and dominated the first half.
“Of course people were disappointed with us last weekend, but the season so far has been incredible for us,” the Dutchman said of the defeat.
“We’re sixth – on the same points as Arsenal. Nobody would have thought that before the season.
“We’ve surprised everybody this season, so hopefully the second half of the season is the same and we’ll be up there challenging right until the end.”