Danny Guthrie admits to having been left frustrated by a recent spell out of the Newcastle side, but is now setting his sights on European qualification.
The combative midfielder was handed his first start in over a month on Sunday as the Magpies picked up a 1-0 victory over Norwich.
He helped to provide cover for Cheick Tiote during his time away at the Africa Cup of Nations and cushioned the loss of Yohan Cabaye to suspension.
Guthrie has, however, tumbled down the pecking order since that pair returned to action, leaving him kicking his heels on the sidelines.
He admits he found Alan Pardew's decision to drop him difficult to accept, but has knuckled down and forced his way back in on merit.
Guthrie told the Evening Chronicle: "I was very upset and disappointed to be left out the team a couple of weeks ago. I had to pick myself up.
"It was a tough game to come into against Norwich.
"We were delighted to get the win - we have not won for a few games now.
"It was a tough grind out there, and a bit edgy at times, but it is another three points on the board.
"We got the draw against Wolves which we should have won. We also played decently against Arsenal but lost the game. It is never a consolation, but against Norwich we really grinded it out."
Victory over Norwich helped Newcastle to close to within two points of fifth-placed Chelsea - having played a game more - and Guthrie is confident the Magpies can grace continental competition next term.
With his contract due to expire in the summer there is no guarantee that he will form part of that adventure, but the 24-year-old is determined to help bring European football back to Tyneside.
"It would be a proud moment, not just for me," he admitted. "It would be for all the staff because it was not expected of us.
"The top four is out of our reach. Maybe that will be in the next two seasons for us.
"The Europa League is definitely within our reach. If we show the work ethic and determination we have against Norwich in the next few games, we have a chance."