6:40am Monday 26th March 2012
© Press Association 2013
Alan Pardew has played down Newcastle's hopes of securing Champions League football despite closing the gap on Tottenham to five points after a 3-1 win at West Brom.
Goals from Papiss Cisse (2) and Hatem Ben Arfa enabled the Magpies to move level on points with fifth-placed Chelsea in the Barclays Premier League before Shane Long's second-half consolation effort, but Pardew believes Newcastle are not well enough equipped to overhaul one of the top four.
Pardew said: "Are we Champions League contenders? I don't think so. The last 10 games are the most important ones in any season and we've won the first two of those. There are a lot of games left, a lot of points. But I don't think we've got the depth of squad to challenge for that (a Champions League place)."
He added: "I get told the fans might be thinking 'this is on' - but not me."
Ben Arfa, who set up Cisse's two goals, was the official man of the match and Pardew believes he is a reformed character worth a place in the France squad.
He said: "There are not many players who can do what he can do and it might be a nice wild card for France to have him in the squad. He really has knuckled down and there is a much more controlled person in his manner and the way he is around the training ground.
"I can say that publicly so it registers with the French manager. In the past in France there was some reputation that he was an 'enfant terrible' but not here. He has been immaculate and especially this season he has really kind of focused and got his mind set in a good place."
Pardew confirmed Newcastle skipper Fabricio Coloccini will miss next weekend's clash against Liverpool with a hamstring injury but Albion head coach Roy Hodgson could be without midfielder James Morrison for a much longer period after he limped out of the action with a knee ligament injury.
Albion had to finish the game with 10 men as they had already used their three substitutes, and Hodgson said: "It's knee ligament damage. He will have the scan tomorrow (Monday) and we will see what brings.
"The initial prognosis from the medical team is not good. We have to see what ligaments in the knee have been affected."
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