Newcastle manager Eddie Howe has called on his players to rise to the challenge of higher expectations after a poor start to the season.
The Magpies have lost three of their opening four Premier League games after finishing fourth last season to return to the Champions League for the first time in 20 years.
Newcastle will try to get back on track when they host Brentford on Saturday before their European adventure begins with a trip to AC Milan on Tuesday.
“We’ve got to return to our highest level of performance and I think if we do then I back us to get the job done,” said Howe, whose side have suffered consecutive defeats to Manchester City, Liverpool and Brighton.
“The challenges aren’t going to go away this year, all through pre-season we had tough fixtures and tough fixtures at the start of the season.
“But with the competitions we’re in there are no easy games, so we have to respond and we have to grow to the challenge.”
Questions have been asked over whether Howe’s men will be able to handle the rigours of a Champions League group that also features Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund, as well as competing at the top of the Premier League.
But the manager believes the strength of the English top flight means his side are well-prepared to take on the best in Europe.
“I don’t see it being a huge difference to be honest — you’re preparing against teams that are from Europe rather than England, (but) for me the Premier League is the best league in the world,” he said on Friday.
“I think for loads of different reasons the Premier League is an unbelievable league and I love being in it, but now we’re going to Europe, it’s a different competition and different challenges but it’s still football.
“It’s adapting to the period with the intensity of the games, recovery periods, training being different — the actual game itself is the same.”
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