MIKE Ashley has delivered on his promise to provide new signings this month - now Tim Krul admits it is up to Newcastle United's players to live up to their side of the bargain and guide the club away from the relegation zone.

The Magpies have spent more than £16m since the transfer window opened at the start of January in order to recruit Mathieu Debuchy, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Yoan Gouffran, Massadio Haidara and Moussa Sissoko.

While Ashley and managing director Derek Llambias refused to loosen the purse strings in the summer, there has been no such reticence this month, with Newcastle's position just two points above the relegation zone proving a major motivation for their spending spree.

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Tonight's game at relegation rivals Aston Villa provides the first opportunity to begin to repair the damage that was inflicted in the first five-and-a-half months of the season, and Krul admits there are no longer any excuses for a squad that has underachieved markedly in recent games.

"In past years, it's been 'Yes, no, yes, no' in terms of who'll we'll bring in, but the owner and chairman did what they said they were going to do," said the Magpies goalkeeper. "Five new players is more than I expected.

"It's given everyone a massive lift. The club said they were going to strengthen the squad, and they did that by signing five new players in the space of five or six days.

"Now, we as players have to draw a line under what's happened. We can't keep going the way we have been doing. We've had a really rough patch, but we have to look forward. With these new players, I'm sure we'll kick on."

It remains to be seen how many of the new signings start at Villa Park, but the quintet are all expected to be named in the squad as Newcastle chase their first away win of the season.

Much has been made of the fact that all five of this month's arrival are French, swelling the Magpies' cross-Channel contingent to 11 senior players.

Yanga-Mbiwa, Sissoko and Gouffran could start tonight even though they barely speak a word of English, but Krul claims it is easy to overstate the difficulties involved with integrating so many overseas players into a new team.

The Dutchman rejects suggestions the Newcastle squad could splinter into a number of different cliques, and argues that the universal language of football supersedes any national barriers.

"It's not a problem that they're all from the same country," said Krul, who nevertheless admits he is regretting giving up his French lessons after a year of senior school. "I'm just impressed by the quality we're signing. It doesn't matter what country they come from, we could have ten French or ten Dutch, as long as they're good players, and I think they are, I'm just glad they're there.

"Some of them don't really speak much English yet, so the rest of us have been helping them as much as we can. If my centre-half speaks French, I have to make sure I can communicate with them, but football language isn't that difficult.

"It doesn't take that long to integrate and football language is easy to pick up. I'll teach them the most important words.

"There are a few key words that they've got to know - 'away', 'man on', 'keeper's ball', that kind of thing. If I'm coming out for the ball, they will know about it, and I'll be giving them a list."

While Newcastle travel to Villa Park in an upbeat mood as a result of this month's additions, their opponents are in a state of considerable chaos in the wake of two dispiriting cup defeats to lower-league opposition.

Last week's Capital Cup exit to League Two Bradford City was followed by an FA Cup defeat at Millwall on Friday evening, and Paul Lambert's position is being called into question with Villa a point and a place below Newcastle in the Premier League table.

There will be a febrile atmosphere inside Villa Park, and if the Magpies were to claim an early goal, the mood among the home supporters could rapidly become hostile.

Newcastle have experienced such tinderbox emotions themselves in recent years, and Krul is hoping his team-mates can turn their opponents' anxieties to their own advantage.

"It's a massive game for us," he said. "We have to walk away with a result and we'll definitely be going there to win. Aston Villa are on a poor run at the moment and we have to be mindful of that.

"We haven't been on a great run ourselves, but hopefully the new additions will help. Villa's confidence is low, and hopefully we'll keep their crowd quiet.

"We have 15 games to go and we're in a fight which nobody expected us to be in. Everyone said we were too big to be in this fight, but we're not. We're in it, and we have to get out of it as quickly as possible."

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