NEWCASTLE boss Alan Pardew has challenged his players to find their best form for a tough double-header against Bordeaux and Manchester United.
The Magpies, who won admirers for their fluent football last season, have struggled to replicate that level of performance since the start of the new campaign and have rather ground out results in recent weeks.
The arrival of Bordeaux on Tyneside for tonight's Europa League Group D clash and Manchester United's impending visit on Sunday present Pardew's men with the opportunity to finally slip into gear.
The manager said: "The beauty of us this season is that we have been able to get results without playing our best football.
"Ideally, you want both together and the more games you play, hopefully the more rhythm you gain.
"We have been disrupted this year by injury more than anything, and that has hurt us again with losing Steven Taylor. "Nevertheless, we hope in the next two games we show our true colours."
Injuries have eaten into Pardew's squad once again, with Taylor limping out of Saturday's 2-2 Premier League draw at Reading with a calf problem which is likely to keep him out of the United game too.
With goalkeeper Tim Krul and Taylor's central defensive partner Fabricio Coloccini also on the casualty list, Danny Simpson's return from a hamstring problem which has seen him miss the last five games could hardly be more timely.
3Newcastle v Bordeaux , Setanta Ireland, KO 8.05