Newcastle United’s Ryan Taylor believes the pressure is off as they battle for a European place.
Currently perched in sixth place in the Premier League, the Magpies have exceeded expectations after losing club captain Kevin Nolan and Joey Barton at the beginning of the season.
However, the addition of Demba Ba and Yohan Cabaye has given the side a new dimension and, with the January acquisition of Papiss Cisse, manager Alan Pardew intends to maintain their momentum until the end of the season.
That could mean European football next season - something that Taylor believes will not burden the players.
"I don't think it affects anyone - the pressures of getting into Europe - because when we started the season that wasn't the aim," said Taylor. "A top 10 finish was nice and then we could build on it the season after."
In the club's second season back in the Premier League, after relegation in 2010, avoiding the drop was still the main concern, but Taylor admits the prospect of playing Europe is exciting.
"Obviously you have goals and targets, and ours this season was to try and get to the 40 point mark as early as we can," he said.
"It's nice to do that with 13 games to go we can enjoy these remaining games without feeling that bit of pressure. I know the lads in the dressing room aren't going to be happy just settling for the place that we are now.
"Every footballer wants to compete in the best competitions, and at our club it's no difference. If you get a chance to play in Europe, then you want to grab it with both hands."
Failure to achieve a spot in Europe next season would not be disappointing, yet the former Wigan Athletic full-back believes the fans deserve nothing less for their continued, unwavering support of a club that have been through the mire in recent times.
"The fans that we have at this club, they deserve the European nights back, to get some pride back into this city and to get Newcastle back on the map. That’s in every player's mind at this football club, to strive to get into Europe."
By Elliot Georgescomments