Williamson remains grounded

The 28-year-old defender’s return from injury has coincided with

a resurgence on Tyneside which has seen the Magpies end a run of

six league games without victory to rekindle their unlikely

challenge for a top-six finish.

Wins over Bolton and champions Manchester United have

strengthened their grip on seventh place and they are only one

point adrift of Liverpool in sixth, sparking the more optimistic

fans to talk of European qualification.

That would represent a major achievement for a club which only

returned to the top flight last season and which has since seen

striker Andy Carroll, full-back Jose Enrique and midfielders Kevin

Nolan and Joey Barton all leave.

However, as he prepared for Sunday’s home clash with QPR,

Williamson was content to tackle each match as a separate entity

rather than imagine what might lie ahead.

He said: “It’s a cliche, but we are taking every game as it

comes.

“For me personally, when you start getting carried away with

targets and looking where we could finish, it just gets a bit too

much.

“You take every day as it comes and then come the last game of

the season, we will see where that brings us.”

Newcastle established themselves as the latest Premier League

surprise package when they went 11 games unbeaten at the start of

the campaign.

But with 20 games played, they continue to rub shoulders with

the division’s big spenders despite having rebuilt their squad on a

more humble budget, and that is a source of immense

satisfaction.

In addition, they have managed to do it in some style with Demba

Ba and Yohan Cabaye having produced sublime strikes in the 3-0

victory over United, while Hatem Ben Arfa and Jonas Gutierrez

scored final individual goals to knock Blackburn out of the FA Cup

last weekend.

Williamson said: “People were waiting for the bubble to burst,

but we have just got an honest group of lads – although saying

there are no superstars after the goals the other day, you would

beg to differ.

“But we have just got an honest group and we know if we carry on

working hard and applying ourselves in the way we do, we have got

goals in the team and we have got a back four and a midfield which

can keep clean sheets.

“Everybody needs a bit of luck along the way. Even the top teams

go through sticky periods like we have done, but no, I am not

really surprised.

“I know how hard the lads worked in pre-season, the togetherness

when they were away, and you just feel the bond we have had for the

last couple of years.

“It’s just carried on.”

QPR will arrive on Tyneside with new manager Mark Hughes taking

charge of his first game, but without suspended skipper and former

Magpie Joey Barton.

Williamson said: “It would have spiced the game up a little bit.

He’s a good player and he does bring a lot to that team, so I

suppose it’s a plus-point in that way.”

However, they will have eight-goal striker Heidar Helguson among

their ranks, and Williamson knows from personal experience what a

threat he can be.

He said: “I have played against him once before and he has got a

tremendous leap for a little man.

“He’s very, very good in the air, so our set-pieces will cater

for that. It will be important for us to win the first contact and

if not, react to the second ones.

“We know he’s a big threat and we will have to look at that on

the set-plays.”