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Pardew: Toon have earned respect

NEWCASTLE boss Alan Pardew believes his side have won the respect of their Premier League rivals as they close in on an improbable place in the Champions League.

Pardew's men can take another big stride towards a top four finish if they beat Stoke at home tomorrow, while ailing rivals Tottenham face a potentially difficult London derby at QPR.

Pardew said: "I think there is a great respect for us, and quite rightly so. We have had enough coverage, we are fine with what we have got, and we are just looking forward to the remaining games."

QPR's survival hopes took a hit with Wigan's stunning Monday night win at Arsenal, and Roberto Martinez's men are targeting more joy in the capital as they face Fulham at Craven Cottage.

Hugo Rodallega and Shaun Maloney could both be back for the buoyant Latics, and Martinez said: "We know we don't have enough points. We have 12 points to fight for and we need to make sure we keep the same approach."

Steve Kean's Blackburn meet Norwich at Ewood Park in desperate need of a win after plunging back into the relegation zone. Meanwhile, Owen Coyle's Bolton also hope to climb out of the bottom three as they meet Swansea at the Reebok Stadium.

Former Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill leads his Sunderland side back to Villa Park to face opponents who are still not safe from relegation, but boss Alex McLeish hopes for good news on the injury front.

Marc Albrighton, Chris Herd, Ciaran Clark and Stephen Warnock are all pushing to return, while McLeish has intimated that long-term absentee Richard Dunne could also make a comeback before the end of the campaign.