Premier League

Pardew wants players to produce

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Sat, 27 Apr 2013 12:46:00

Lazio coach Vladimir Petkovic has his sights set on a place in the Europa League next season.

Petkovic is expecting his side to respond to a recent slump in form with a win at Parma on Sunday.

Lazio were still in the hunt for the Scudetto at the turn of the year, but just two wins in their last 13 matches have left them struggling even to make it into Europe next season.

Back-to-back defeats against Juventus and Udinese have left the Biancocelesti two points behind fifth-place Inter Milan, but Petkovic is not giving up on a place in Europe yet.

"Apart from our more recent games, we've done well this season and now we've got to remain positive," he said.

"We need to take things game by game, starting from tomorrow. In the end, everything will work out well.

"I am optimistic because the lads show me every day that they want to be successful. We just need get back into our optimal form as soon as possible."

Parma are also searching for their form after a recent slump which ended their slender hopes of challenging for a top-six finish.

Their forward Amauri is confident they can get back to winning ways in front of their own fans on Sunday after losing their last game at the Stadio Tardini against Udinese.

"If we play with the spirit of wanting to give that little bit more, then we will get something out of it," he said at a press conference.

"We have shown it already many times, like against Torino. That is the spirit we need to have and we must never settle for what we have already got."

The 51-year-old has been stung by the tide of criticism which has come the Magpies' way since their 3-0 home defeat by derby rivals Sunderland in their last home game.

He believes there is genuine mitigation for a season which, but for an extended Europa League run, has miserably failed to live up to expectations, although his detractors have grown weary of what they believes are lame excuses.

However, Pardew is confident his team can start to redress the balance by collecting the win they so desperately need as Liverpool head for St James' Park this evening, and with key players returning to fitness, that will be the target.

He said: "Ultimately, you do want your best players available. As we stand here today, we are in one of our strongest positions and we have to prove that on the football pitch.

"Talking is shallow at the moment for us after Sunderland in particular. We need to produce performances.

"But I do sense in the group a real determination now just to get us over the line, and then we will be well-set.

"I think we all know in that dressing room that if we have got everybody available, we have got a decent side."

Skipper Fabricio Coloccini has returned to full training after spending seven weeks on the sidelines with two broken bones in his back, although he has only two days' training under his belt, while midfielder Cheick Tiote has shaken off a hamstring problem.

But it is France international Hatem Ben Arfa's progress in working his way back to match fitness which is perhaps Pardew's greatest cause for optimism after three cameo appearances as a substitute.

The manager said: "Of course, every day he is getting closer. He has worked a lot better this week and we are hopeful he is going to make more of an impact, whether he starts or whether he comes off the bench, than he has in previous games."

Liverpool, who will be without suspended striker Luis Suarez for their trip to St James' Park, joined Newcastle in the Europa League this season, bowing out to Zenit St Petersburg in the last 16, a round before the Magpies made their exit.

However, they appeared to cope better with the demands of the competition which took a heavy toll on Pardew's relatively small senior squad.

He said: "We have had a lot of problems with one thing and another. Our injury record is awful this year and it's something that we must improve next year.

"The Europa League did have an impact on that - how much impact, it's difficult to gauge."

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