Midfielder Cheick Tiote insists he is not surprised by how well Newcastle have fared in the Barclays Premier League this season.
The Magpies are six points clear of the relegation zone and know that victory over Birmingham at St James' Park would almost certainly mathematically guarantee their presence in the top flight and keep alive their hopes of a top-10 finish.
That would represent a significant achievement for a club which underwent a traumatic restructuring after slipping out of the Premier League two years ago. Some of the biggest names jumped ship while others were offloaded as part of a dramatic cost-cutting exercise.
And despite their swift return from the second tier, a modest summer recruitment drive led many to predict a long, hard season. But Tiote, a £3.5million acquisition from FC Twente, does not believe too many eyebrows should be raised if Newcastle finish in the top half of the table, particularly with Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool all failing to win at St James'.
He said: "No, because we work together and we have grown in confidence together, so I am not surprised. If you do well against a big club you have confidence, and this year we have done well."