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By ESPN Staff

Krul: Stoke and Wigan games vital

Goalkeeper Tim Krul has challenged Newcastle to prove they a worth a return to the Champions League - by beating Stoke and Wigan.

The fifth-placed Magpies are currently level on points with Tottenham in fourth and will be assured of European action next season if they can secure a top-six finish following Carling Cup winners Liverpool's FA Cup semi-final victory over Everton.

But having reeled in Spurs, who have won only one of the eight Premier League games they have played since they demolished Newcastle 5-0 at White Hart Lane on February 11, they have set their sights on even loftier aims.

However, while title-chasing Manchester City and FA Cup finalists Chelsea may yet stand between Alan Pardew's men and their dreams, Krul insists that victory over Stoke this Saturday and resurgent Wigan, who have beaten leaders Manchester United and Arsenal in their last two games, at the DW Stadium a week later will be equally important.

The 24-year-old Holland international told the Journal: "What an opportunity we have got. Things are going great at the moment.

"I have been saying for years that I think Newcastle are a top-six side and maybe people didn't see it. But now we are there, and hopefully we can stay there.

"Liverpool's win was great news for us and it is huge for the club to be back in Europe.

"We are up there, but if you don't win against Stoke and Wigan, you don't deserve to be up there. We will look at the next two games and hope that we get the results that we need.

"Our attitude is that if we can't beat Stoke, we don't deserve to get into the Champions League.

"We just need to keep the pressure on the top teams. Stoke at home and Wigan away are massive games for us.''

Newcastle will head into the Stoke game on the back of five successive league victories and with a comprehensive 3-1 win at the Britannia Stadium in October, courtesy of a Demba Ba hat-trick, already under their belts.

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