MOUSSA SISSOKO wants Newcastle United to cement a place in the upper echelons of the Premier League for the remainder of the season – and thinks his goal output could be crucial.

The French midfielder scored for the first time in the top-fight since March last weekend to double his seasonal tally after finding the net in the Capital One Cup win at Manchester City last month.

Sissoko accepts he has not scored as many times as he would have liked since moving from Toulouse in January last year but believes he is more than capable of significantly improving his form in front of goal.

“I'm not a striker, but I want to score between seven and ten goals,” he said. “It was my first goal in the league when I scored against QPR, and I'm very happy for that. I will try to work hard every day. If we can win every game, and if I can score, I will be happy for that. I just have to keep going.”

When Sissoko first arrived 22 months ago he looked the complete box-to-box midfielder. After impressing on his debut against Aston Villa, he scored twice in a 3-2 win over Chelsea and three weeks later he added another against Southampton. The goals, however, dried up after that, scoring just four times through the whole of last season.

In Sissoko’s mind, that return is not good enough. He is keen to at least double that total this season and he is on his way. By achieving his individual targets, he thinks that will help the Magpies to close in on a healthy Premier League placing come May.

“Maybe this is the best football of my career, it's true at the moment ... I’m playing well and happy,” said the 25-year-old. “I will try to continue like this. If we can finish in the top eight, it will be good for me and the team.

“It's too early to say whether we can finish fifth or sixth or seventh. We just try to get a lot of points. In the second part of the season, we will see where we can finish.”

Newcastle sit a surprising fifth despite a start to the campaign which saw them fail to win any of their opening seven league games and the strong calls for Alan Pardew to step down.

But after a stunning six match winning streak, Newcastle are dreaming of Europe ahead of this Saturday’s trip to London to face in-form West Ham United, sitting in sixth spot.

Sissoko does not think Newcastle have anything to be scared of at Upton Park. He said: "West Ham are playing well. It will be a hard game, but we are confident. We go to West Ham try to get the three points and that’s all we can focus on, regardless of their form.”

Pardew is keen for Newcastle to stay in touch with the top four going in to January, knowing a strong position in the Premier League will help his own recruitment push.

He remains keen to add to his squad despite the transformation in fortunes and the emergence of a number of younger players such as Ayozee Perez, Sammy Ameobi and Mehdi Abeid.

SK Brann’s Stephane Badji has been monitored by St James’ Park scouts operating in Scandinavia.

Badji has been capped by Senegal twice, can play anywhere across the middle and likes to push forward. Crystal Palace, Sunderland and West Bromwich Albion have been credited with an interest in one of the Norwegian league’s hottest properties.

German striker Max Kruse, rated at around the £9m mark by Borussia Monchengladbach, is also a player recommended by chief scout Graham Carr.