AFTER a warm weather training break in the Middle East, Newcastle United arrived back in the North-East on Thursday afternoon with goalkeeper Tim Krul hoping the benefits will be reflected in an end of season charge up the Premier League table.
The Magpies returned to winning ways at West Ham United a week ago to end a run of four straight defeats and are looking to follow that up with a second win of 2014 at Norwich City on Tuesday.
Eyebrows were raised among certain supporters by the way manager Alan Pardew decided to take his squad away to Abu Dhabi to take advantage of a low-key week because of the absence of FA Cup football this weekend.
But Pardew – who insisted the trip was booked in before the third round defeat to Cardiff City earlier this month – is looking for the results to back up his reasons for taking his players abroad for five days.
Krul was around a couple of years ago when a similar warm weather training camp in the winter actually gave Newcastle the lift for the final few months of the campaign when they came close to claiming a Champions League spot.
The Newcastle goalkeeper said: “Two years ago we went on a fantastic run after our break so hopefully we will go on another this time around. But you can't think too much about what might be achievable.
“You really can't because every game is difficult. We will be going to Norwich next, then the derby with Sunderland is the weekend after, so it is hard to look too far ahead. Those are two massive games for us and will be difficult to say we will get six points or four. We just have to see and go out to try to win both.”
By the time the Sunderland game comes around the transfer window will have closed and Newcastle will know whether they have been able to retain the services of their excellent midfielder, Yohan Cabaye.
The Frenchman continues to be tracked by Paris St Germain, who are understood to be readying a £20m-plus offer before the deadline, but it is hoped the prospect of playing regularly in the first team between now and the summer will seal his World Cup starting place.
Cabaye was at his very best at West Ham. As well as scoring a clinical first and a deadly third with a lovely free-kick, he dominated the midfield and created plenty of chances for his team-mates.
Such performances will only increase the interest in him from bigger spending clubs and Krul is full of admiration for the 28-year-old former Lille man.
“Yohan is a fantastic player, absolutely fantastic,” said Krul. “He works so hard, even when we are not in a match, he will hit the training ground when we have finished to practice his free-kicks.
“People might not see that about him. That's what separates the top players, they want to be better every day. He does not want to be chilling or relaxing every day. He wants to get better and better. He deserves every credit he gets.”
Newcastle will hope the trip to Abu Dhabi has kept Cabaye in full flow ahead of the trip to Carrow Road – but Krul believes the whole squad are primed for a strong finish in the Premier League.
“It was very satisfying to bounce back from our defeat at Upton Park because that is a difficult place to go,” he said. “I don’t think we ever doubted ourselves during our poor run because we were still playing well, really well in some games. We didn't get our rewards in those games, but we did at West Ham.
“We have depth this year, people coming off the bench like Shola Ameobi, making a difference, and Hatem Ben Arfa giving us a spark. We have a fantastic squad but we can’t look too far ahead. We are right where we want to be at this stage and we want to build on that.”