Cabaye: EL can be stepping stone
Midfielder Yohan Cabaye has urged Newcastle to use the Europa League as a stepping stone towards sustained success after he did just that at Lille.
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The 26-year-old Frenchman and his team-mates will line up against Bordeaux in a Group D clash at St James' Park on Thursday night in the toughest test yet of their rediscovered European credentials.
Cabaye left behind Champions League football when he agreed to join the Magpies for a bargain £4.8million last summer after helping Lille claim the domestic double.
However, he believes his former club's previous experience in the lesser continental competition paved the way for glory, and is hoping his current employers can travel a similar path.
Cabaye said: "With Lille, we played for three or four years in the Europa League, and I think that competition helped us to win the French title and the French cup.
"It's important to play 100% in this competition to get more experience for the future.
"Now we have got the Europa League, so we have to play to win the game because we are playing at home.
"We know Bordeaux are a good team, but we are a good team as well, so we have to win the game to have a winning mentality."
Newcastle ended their five-year European exile by springing something of a surprise to finish fifth in last season's Barclays Premier League.
Indeed, for a while, it looked as if they might even creep into a Champions League qualification spot, and that is an ambition Cabaye retains.
He said: "I knew before I came here that Newcastle was and is still a big club in England, but last season we worked really hard every game to try to play in a European competition.
"We wanted the Champions League, but this season it's the Europa League and it's really important to play properly in this competition.
"The Europa League will give much experience to all the players, especially the young players, so we have to be focussed on the game tomorrow to win the game, and try to keep working to win every game and to play for the top of the league."
The France midfielder prepared for the clash with his compatriots having revealed in an interview back at home that he might have had the chance to leave Tyneside after a single season this summer with Tottenham interested in acquiring his services.
However, while Magpies boss Alan Pardew spent the transfer window looking anxiously over his shoulder amid a whirlwind of speculation over his big names, he emerged with his squad intact.
Asked about Spurs' interest in Cabaye, the manager replied: "Firstly, there was no offer from Spurs so Yohan didn't get that opportunity.
"But, of course, the likes of Yohan and one or two other players are going to be courted by some of the top sides, that's natural.
"What is important is the development of players - I think players develop here and it is important then that we give them a platform for success, and we are doing our best to do that and this competition is part of that.
"The only way we can keep the likes of Yohan, Papiss Cisse, Cheick Tiote and Demba Ba is to bring success, that's the only way and that's what we are going to have to try to do.
"Hopefully together, we can achieve that and then re-evaluate our goals for next year."
Full-back Danny Simpson's return from a hamstring injury could hardly be better-timed for Pardew, who has seen Steven Taylor join Fabricio Coloccini on the casualty list to spark something of a defensive crisis.
However, the 51-year-old manager has hinted he will field a significantly stronger starting XI than he has done in the competition to date, with Bordeaux having launched their campaign with a 4-0 demolition of Club Brugge.