Newcastle striker Papiss Cisse prepares for an ‘ extraordinary ‘ conclusion of his first season in the English Football League system.
The 26-year-old Senegal international only signed for the Magpies on January 18, and made his debut for the club until February 5, not on his return from the African Cup.
However, his goal scoring account that day opened with a winner against Aston Villa, and has not looked back since.
Papiss Cisse red hot form: (Centre) is a revelation on Tyneside
His strike in East Monday 2-0 victory over Bolton in St James ‘ Park was his 10th in just nine games, and left the Tyneside club sitting in fifth place in the Barclays Premier League table with a real chance of Champions League qualification.
Manager Alan Pardew later admitted publicly for the first time at least, that a top-four finish was a possibility, and while Cisse admits that the odds are against the club, he is relishing the chance to accomplish it.
He said: “If the manager says, it is possible, but it’s only a possibility.
‘ We have five games left and we have to really, really hard work in the week, so we are ready for the weekend, and we will see whether we can get then there.
‘ We only have five games left, so we’re going to take it match by match.
“But we have really momentum behind us, so I still think we can do something really extraordinary.”
Unstoppable: Cisse (left) scored against Bolton on Easter Monday
As Cisse, French midfielder Yohan Cabaye, which his back on Champions League football with Lille turned to Newcastle during the summer, takes a moderate approach in the last month or so of a season that has all the expectations.
He said: “the team spirit is good and we just want to continue, continue to win. It’s good for the team.
‘ We have one month to go and it’s good to go on the training ground to work for something.
‘ Now we have the Champions League as a goal, and it is very, very exciting to play for that.
‘ We are very happy. The results were great for us yesterday. We keep winning and now we are with Tottenham with the same points, so with five games to go, why not? “
The Magpies fifth consecutive victory, in combination with the Tottenham home defeat by Norwich and Chelsea draw against Fulham, left them level on points with Spurs to fourth place and two points better off than Champions League semi-finalists Chelsea.
Magnifique: Hatem Ben Arfa scored a wonder goal against Bolton
But if it was clinched by the 83rd-minute strike from substitute Shola Cisse Ameobi the cross, the ball was set rolling by mercurial Frenchman Hatem Ben Arfa, whose wonderful opener 10 minutes earlier had lit a previously sterile encounter in which Bolton itself may have taken the lead but for goalkeeper Tim Krul.
Ben Arfa delicious flick and enable on the pass inside his own half Sam Ricketts Cabaye for killing, and Mark Davies left David Wheater, Tim Ream and goalkeeper Adam Bogdan couldn’t do anything to stop him as he drove more than 60 metres before the ball into the bottom corner glide.
Cabaye, who hopes to be accompanied by his compatriot in the France squad for the Euro 2012-final, said: ‘ that was the real Hatem Ben Arfa and fortunately he plays with us.
“He is in our team and he’s a player for various class. He works hard every day for that, suitable for us, and he has the national team as a goal as well.
We can do it: Alan Pardew says Champions League qualification is to reach
‘ There are still five games and if he plays like that in the last five games, I think he has a great chance to be in the squad.
For a time, Cisse was beaten on the head by his teammate, but whose early goal was better, he said with a smile: “Hatem. It was fantastic, it was a wonderful goal. “
Newcastle have no furniture this weekend because of Chelsea from involvement in the FA Cup semi-finals, and will return to action on 21 April at home to Stoke.
Bolton also have a two weeks after thinking about a fight display on Tyneside before they welcome Swansea to the Reebok Stadium with skipper Kevin Davies now back after an injury.
Manager Owen Coyle said: ‘ it was time to get him back in. He acquitted himself well, brought us to the park and looked a real threat, as well as all the guys.
‘ They really gave a great effort considering what was asked of them so quickly after playing on Saturday, and that will take us in good stead, that spirit, to come in the remaining matches.