James Perch

By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter

The Toon Army are dusting off their passports with Newcastle United back in European competition for the first time since 2007 - and defender James Perch believes it's nothing less than the club's loyal supporters deserve.

Versatile Perch became a cult figure with the fans on the back of his excellent displays last season following a tough start to his time on Tyneside, and even picked up the continental nickname of 'Perchinho'.

Now, following last term's fifth place finish which means Europa League football beckons for Alan Pardew's side, the former Nottingham Forest man is looking forward to playing abroad - and he knows they'll be followed there in their numbers.  

It is more than five years since the Magpies went out of what was then called the UEFA Cup at the hands of AZ Alkmaar, and they haven't been back since. But that will all change in August, and Perch hopes it will be the beginning of a European adventure.

"The fans deserve it because they follow us home and away in their thousands," he told nufc.co.uk. "We're one of the best supported clubs in the league, if not the best.

"I think it is the best. You look around the ground and for me, there are no other fans like them.

"They've supported us all the way and the support they've given us has been superb, so getting into Europe will be nice for them and I'm sure they're excited for it."