Steve Harper

By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter

Steve Harper has identified the next four days as an opportunity to kick-start Newcastle's season at home and abroad.

In all competitions, United have only lost twice in ten games this season but have yet to hit the heights of the last campaign in terms of performances.

But with home games against Bordeaux and Manchester United on Thursday and Sunday respectively, the Magpies goalkeeper knows it's time to step those levels up.

In the Europa League, Alan Pardew's side had a solid start last month with a 0-0 draw at Maritimo, so their second Group D game is all-important in setting the tone for the rest of the competition. Bordeaux beat Brugge 4-0 in their opening game.

And in the Barclays Premier League, United lie tenth - but are just three points behind Sunday's opponents in third place. Last weekend they came from behind twice to draw 2-2 with Reading but Harper has accepted that the Magpies will have to play better this week.

"Performances need to improve and the gaffer's told us what he expects," the 37-year-old told nufc.co.uk in the build-up to the type of exciting double-header he has experienced on several occasions during his long career with Newcastle.

"He expects a response this week. We have two huge games this week. Bordeaux obviously had a very impressive win in the Europa League and Manchester United at Newcastle doesn't need any build-up at all.

"So they're two huge games and I think he expects a response on Thursday.

"Hopefully we can provide that."

Tickets are still available for the Bordeaux game, while a limited number of tickets are on sale to Members for the Manchester United match. Click here to buy