STEVE BRUCE insists Newcastle United are not nervously looking over their shoulders at Fulham, and has suggested Scott Parker’s bullish assessment of his own side’s form is misplaced.

Having been ten points clear of the relegation zone less than a fortnight ago, the Magpies find themselves just six points ahead of the drop zone as they head into this weekend’s games. However, with Fulham hosting bottom-placed Sheffield United this evening, the gap could have shrunk to three by the time Newcastle line up at Old Trafford to face Manchester United tomorrow night.

Speaking in the wake of Fulham’s midweek draw at Burnley, Parker unashamedly trained his sights of Newcastle, stating that overhauling his former club was now a realistic ambition given his side’s fine run of form.

The Cottagers have lost just one of their last six matches, but as Bruce pointed out yesterday, they have also won just one of their last 14 league games. As a result, the Magpies manager refuses to get too caught up in analyses of the battle for the final relegation spot.

“I’ve always said that it’s your accumulation of points that determines what you get at the end of the season,” said Bruce. “No matter what anyone else does, you’ve got to set yourself a target of whatever that points tally may be.

“If you look at the bottom six or seven at the moment, there’s two or three points separates a host of teams. We’re not alone in it. Fulham have obviously won (last weekend) and closed the gap a bit, but they’re still struggling to win as well. I think they’ve only won one of their last 14 games.

“It’s all to play for. We know we’re in the bottom half of the division, which means we have to get to the (safety) figure as quickly as we possibly can.”

Like his Newcastle players, Bruce is aware of the bullish noises coming out of Fulham camp with regard to their prospects of reeling the Magpies in. With the Magpies due to visit Craven Cottage on the final weekend of the season, the stage is set for a dramatic finale, however Bruce would rather have 25 points on the board with 14 games still to play than be playing catch-up like the Cottagers.

“Let’s see where we all are at the end of the season,” he said. “If they’re (Fulham) confident, then let’s see where we all end up. Sometimes, your fixture list in terms of when you’re playing certain teams can colour things a bit and help in certain situations, but you’ve just got to quietly get about your job and get the points on the board, and that’s what we’ll be trying to achieve.”