EDDIE HOWE is confident that Newcastle’s season can still end on a “very special” note despite a disappointing campaign so far as he targets FA Cup glory.

The Magpies, who finished fourth in the Premier League last season, slipped to ninth in the table after a dismal 4-1 defeat at title-chasing Arsenal on Saturday.

This season has featured a famous Champions League victory over Paris Saint-Germain but also an early exit from Europe and a quarter-final defeat in the League Cup.

The club, who were bought by a Saudi-backed consortium in 2021, transforming their outlook, have not won a major trophy since 1969.

But Newcastle boss Howe, preparing his team for Tuesday's trip to second-tier Blackburn in the fifth round of the FA Cup, said his players could still write their own story.

“We are still in the throes of deciding where this season ends up,“ he said. “Nothing is decided for or against us.

“I definitely want to squash that feeling that we are feeling sorry for ourselves because that has negative connotations. We need the players excited and ambitious, thinking brightly about the future.

“This season can still be very special for us, but we have to make it happen.”

Howe has been badly hampered by injuries but is focused on progression in the FA Cup and securing a European berth for the second successive season, even if the Europa League or Europa Conference League now look more realistic options than the Champions League.

Newcastle are 15 points behind fourth-placed Aston Villa with just 12 league games left.

“Of course, qualifying for the Champions League was unbelievable last year. But if you can’t make that again, then we have to look for the next best alternative,“ said Howe.

“That’s what we’re trying to do, and for me, they’re (the Europa League and Conference League) realistic objectives and we’ll give everything we can to achieve it.” – AFP