THEY might have had something of a reality check in the last two games, but Kieran Trippier maintains everyone associated with Newcastle United should be proud of the progress the club has made since the turn of the year.

The Magpies have suffered back-to-back defeats to title rivals Liverpool and Manchester City in the last fortnight, with the reverses seeing them drop back into the bottom half of the table and tumble to 13th position.

That is still a much better position than the one they were inhabiting for the majority of the season though, with Eddie Howe’s side still having been in the relegation zone as recently as mid-February.

In the future, with the backing of their Saudi Arabian ownership group, Newcastle will hope to be challenging the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool at the top of the table. For now, though, Trippier and his team-mates are simply happy they can head into the final two games of the season with their relegation fears firmly behind them.

“We’ve taken huge steps in the past few months,” said the full-back, who joined Newcastle from Atletico Madrid in January. “It’s about building. We’ve taken huge steps, but playing against these teams (Man City and Liverpool), you see why they’re going for titles every single season.

“This is the stage that we want to be at as a club. We want to achieve things like Man City and Liverpool. We’ve got a long way to go yet, but we’re building and it’s been positive for the past few months.

“Yeah, we’ve had two defeats in the last two games, but we’ve had a fantastic run since January. We’ve taken huge steps, and that’s something to be proud of as a club.”

Trippier helped kickstart Newcastle’s revival in late January and early February, but the right-back was then sidelined for the best part of three months after breaking a bone in his foot during the home win over Aston Villa.

Along with his fellow long-term injury victim, Callum Wilson, he returned to action as a second-half substitute in Sunday’s defeat at Manchester City, and will hope to start at least one of the remaining two matches against Arsenal and his former club, Burnley.

He will be a key performer for Newcastle next season, when he will hope his performances in the first three months of the campaign are strong enough to secure a return to Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the World Cup finals in Qatar.

“I felt good,” said Trippier, in an interview with NUFC TV. “You try to come on and help the team as much as you can. When you’re injured, it’s always difficult. You’re working so hard behind the scenes, when many people don’t see it. Me and Call have worked so hard, we’re both delighted to be back out there.”