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Kemp has sympathy for Toon's problems

STOKE assistant manager Dave Kemp has sympathy with Newcastle's struggles to marry success in the Premier League with Europa League progress.

Newcastle travel to the Britannia Stadium tonight in 14th place in the table and hoping to end a run of three straight league defeats.

In the midst of that run, a 1-1 draw with Maritimo ensured their qualification for the knockout stages of the Europa League, matching Stoke's achievement last season.

Kemp said: "It is difficult, I don't think there's any question about it. There's a lot of games in the Europa League as well.

"We got hit with a lot of long-distance travel. I don't think Newcastle have had the same problem with that, but it's when you get back and are trying to prepare for the game on a Sunday.

"We did the best we could but we had some below-par performances after Europa League matches so we do know how difficult it can be.

"But this is a different situation, they haven't had a Europa League game coming into this one and I'm sure they'll be well prepared."

In contrast, Stoke have picked up seven points from their last three games and have been particularly strong at home, where they have conceded only one goal and kept four consecutive clean sheets.

Victory tonight should lift them into the top 10, but it is at the other end of the field where Kemp knows they need to improve after scoring just 11 goals in the league all season.

Charlie Adam has been the matchwinner in their last two home matches, 1-0 wins over QPR and Fulham, and Kemp wants other players to follow his lead.

"He's produced two quality finishes and that's what we've been missing in our play," Kemp added.

"We've been having shots but the quality of the finishing has not been as good as the build-up play.

"Charlie's two finishes have been very good and that's the type of thing we're looking for, but we need more of it and not just from Charlie, from all the players."

Stoke could field the same side that beat Fulham, with defender Andy Wilkinson (back) and striker Michael Owen (hamstring) unlikely to be risked.