Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has admitted he is facing his biggest challenge since arriving at St James' Park.

The Magpies will head into Wednesday night's difficult trip to Stoke having lost their last three Barclays Premier League games as a result of Sunday's tame 2-0 defeat at Southampton and with just a single victory to their name in eight league outings.

A return of six points from a possible 24 has left them languishing in 14th place in the table and seven points adrift of Everton in fifth, where they finished at the end of the last campaign. Asked if he is enduring his toughest spell since replacing Chris Hughton at the helm in December 2010, Pardew told the Evening Chronicle: "For sure - there's no doubt about that. We are really having to fight."

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