NEWCASTLE boss Alan Pardew has told his players they can win the Europa League as they attempt to book their place in the quarter-finals.
The Magpies, without a major trophy since 1969, will attempt to secure their passage to the last eight when Anzhi Makhachkala head for St James' Park tomorrow evening.
No British club has lifted the trophy in its various guises since Liverpool in 2000-01, and with Chelsea and Tottenham alongside Newcastle in the last 16, that is a situation which could well be remedied this season.
While Pardew know his side faces a tough task simply to find a way past the big-spending men from Dagestan - he has consulted Liverpool counterpart Brendan Rodgers, whose side beat Anzhi 1-0 at Anfield during the group stage of the competition, as part of his preparations - he is convinced that if they do it, they can go all the way.
He said: "We are in it to win it. There's no point saying to me, 'Would the quarter-finals be a great achievement for you in your managerial career?'
"It would be something I could put on my CV, but it wouldn't really mean much to me unless I win the trophy.
"I have been to the FA Cup final twice and lost twice, and I see this competition as a higher standard of competition.
"But I want to win and this club wants to win trophies, so we have a big agenda in front of us.
"There are some very, very good teams in this tournament and we are really looking forward to tomorrow's game."
Asked if every game from this point is effectively a cup final, Pardew replied: "The standard will go up again.
"Either of these teams going through out of this particular tie will have a chance of winning it, I have no doubt about that."
Pardew's optimism was matched by that of full-back Davide Santon, who won a Champions League winners' medal with former club Inter Milan as a teenager.
Now 22, he insists that while making the quarter-finals of the Europa League in the club's first season back in continental action after a five-year absence would be an achievement, he would not be satisfied with that.
Santon said: "When we started the season, we had a really good team, but we had some problems because a lot of players were injured.
"But the new players have been really important for us because if we didn't have them, we wouldn't be in this position now, so it was really important for us.
"But I would not be happy to go [only as far as] the quarter-final.
"Like the manager said, I think the same. If we can get to the quarter-final, I think we can win the competition.
"We know in this competition there are a lot of big teams, but I think Newcastle is a big team as well."
Newcastle will be without winger Hatem Ben Arfa, who was consulting a specialist today over his continuing hamstring problem, while striker Shola Ameobi, who would make a club-record 50th European appearance for an outfield player if involved, will have a late fitness test on the ankle he damaged in Moscow last week.
The Magpies know the 0-0 draw they record at the Luzhniki Stadium means they have to win on Tyneside to progress, while a score draw would send Guus Hiddink's visitors through.
However, there is a confidence within the camp after a dramatic upturn in the club's domestic fortunes which has given Pardew the freedom to attack in Europe.
He said: "It's quite simple: we need to win. If you are going to go through in a tie, you want to win. You don't want to win on away goals, you have got to win the game.