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A win would be nice – Keeper Nick Pope urges Newcastle to upset PSG

Nick Pope has told Newcastle they have to believe they can win every game if they are to be thought of as a top team.

The Magpies head into Tuesday night’s crunch Champions League clash with Paris St Germain knowing their first campaign in two decades could be over if they lose.

Memories of October’s 4-1 demolition of the French champions at St James’ Park, which took Eddie Howe’s men to the top of Group F after two rounds of fixtures, have faded after back-to-back defeats by Borussia Dortmund left them at the foot of the table.

However, asked what they need at the Parc des Princes, Pope said: “A win would be nice. That’s not going to do any harm in any group at any stage.

“It obviously keeps it in our hands as well, which is something that would be nice going into the Milan at home game. But the full focus has got to be on tomorrow night and taking it one game at a time.

“Every game we go into, we’ve got to look to win, whether that’s League Cup, Champions League, league.

“I believe we’re a top team and top team behaviours and top team attitudes, that’s what it is. Whoever the opponent may be, however good they are, we have to have the belief and the attitude that we want to win the game.”

Newcastle managed to keep PSG superstar Kylian Mbappe and his team-mates quiet on Tyneside, but the France international has been in lethal form since, scoring 14 goals in his last 11 games for club and country.

Another clean sheet in Paris would do Pope’s chances of winning back a place in the England set-up no harm and, although he insists he has no problem with manager Gareth Southgate’s decision to leave him out of recent squads, he knows what he needs to do to stand a chance of returning.

He said: “You can always do more. There’s more clean sheets to be had, more saves, better performances. I’ve got to look inwardly at that. Gareth’s decision to leave me out, I’ve got to make it that he can’t leave me out.”

Pope may not be the only Magpie whose form Southgate is monitoring, with Anthony Gordon staking his claim for an elevation from the under-21 ranks with a series of high-octane performances amid a crippling injury crisis.

Howe was without 13 senior players for Saturday’s 4-1 league win over Chelsea, in which the former Everton man scored the final goal, and will have to play a key role in the French capital if his side is to prosper.

The Magpies head coach, who may have to include 17-year-old midfielder Lewis Miley in his starting line-up once again after a hugely impressive display against the Blues, knows just how high the stakes are, but is not cowed by the pressure.

Howe, who put his players through their paces at the Parc des Princes on Monday evening having trained back in Newcastle for the previous two away games, said: “It’s difficult to predict football matches and what the results may be and the permutations of others’ games. We try not to lose energy doing that.

“From our side, we prepare to try to win this game, that’s all we can do and then worry about Milan afterwards.

“We’re certainly not in a strong position, we’re not in the position that we wanted to be, but we are where we are and we have to just focus on this game, and I think it’s imperative we don’t lose.”

Howe confirmed midfielder Joe Willock is to see a specialist on Tuesday over his Achilles injury.

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