ALAN PARDEW has urged supporters not to get carried away after Tuesday night's first away win of the season at Aston Villa and insists his Newcastle United side aren't out of a relegation battle yet.
The 2-1 win at Villa Park courtesy of goals from Papiss Cisse and Yohan Cabaye edged Newcastle away from the bottom three with a four-point cushion now standing between them and Wigan in 18th.
The game saw four of the Magpies' five January signings feature and having spent just over £16m on Mathieu Debuchy, Moussa Sissoko, Massadio Haidara, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Yoan Gouffran, the feeling on Tyneside is optimistic.
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The elation from the Magpies camp was clear to see at the final whistle at Villa Park, but Pardew insists his side aren't out of the woods yet.
"I think very much so (the fans need to keep their feet on the ground). I don't think we got carried away with the victory in house. Last night was a great example of the Premier League when you're trying to get a win over the line.
"Chelsea were cruising and then they weren't cruising and it was two all. There were only four teams that won. Us, Everton, and United were hanging on. It is very tough to get wins over the line.
"We cannot think we are out of the woods in any shape or form until we get to 40 points. We are going to drive to that figure as quickly as we can."
The Magpies hope to make it two wins on the bounce at St James' Park today, but a familiar face could stand in their way.
Demba Ba makes his first return to the club he left to join Chelsea last month and the Senegal international can expect a mixed reception when he walks out on the St James' Park pitch again.
Pardew isn't worried about the fans' reaction today, but is honest enough to admit the club have missed the man that scored 13 goals for them before making his £7.5m move to Stamford Bridge.
"I have no opinion about it (on crowd booing him) other than to say we've missed him," the Magpies boss said.
"We didn't have Moussa and Yoan, we lacked a bit of power and presence in the team with his loss to Chelsea's gain and in that period I don't think we won a game.
"We went out of the FA Cup and lost two Premier League games so it was a blow to us. We can't get away from that but we have to keep an eye on him because he is a threat to us on Saturday."
Ba's transfer to Chelsea became possible after the south London club triggered the release clause in the striker's contract.
Questions were asked and the club were criticised by some fans for inserting such a clause in Ba's contract, but Pardew insists the club had to act to cover themselves in case his long-standing knee problem flared up.
He said: "It was a clause that went in because of the condition he has and we could never negotiate away from that.
"It was a similar position to Everton the other night and you have to make a call. Whether we would do something different next time I don't know. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, of course.
"Having said that we made him a very good offer to stay, which I think he came out publicly and said. The option was there for him."
Pardew has the luxury of being able to select from a near fully fit squad today. The Magpies boss will have to make a few difficult decisions over who starts and who doesn't, particularly at centre-back.
Fabricio Coloccini and Steven Taylor were paired alongside each other against Aston Villa, but new boy Yanga-Mbiwa is also pushing for his first start.
Asked whether the situation could become a problem, Pardew said: "Isn't that the way it's meant to be at a big club?
"It's not a dilemma in my mind. It's how it should be, in my mind. If one of those centre halves under performs, we have real competition sitting on the sidelines, and I have played three centre halves by the way, I've done it here as well in some games.
"I would be very surprised if he has to wait until next season for his debut."