Gareth Barry says it is imperative Aston Villa strengthen in the summer by purchasing several quality players - but the midfielder has not ruled out sneaking into Europe this season.

Barry has been heartened by the news that Villa chairman Doug Ellis has given manager David O'Leary £20 million to invest in new players.

"For the sake of Aston Villa, it is certainly the right move," said Barry, who scored two penalties in the team's 3-0 win at Newcastle.

"It has been publicised this year that we need new players. I think we were expecting at least five new players to come in so, hopefully, the money will attract better-quality ones now.

"When I signed my contract last summer, I was told that four quality signings would be made. The club have brought some players in that have done well, but I am sure this summer we will be looking for a couple of big names."

Villa hope the arrival of several high-calibre players will help them qualify for Europe regularly in the future.

O'Leary's team, who finished sixth last season, just missed out on a place in the Uefa Cup on goal difference but Barry believes Villa, who are tenth with 41 points, could still qualify this term if they do well in their remaining seven games.

He added: "I think the gap is still quite big until the last European spot, but we have some nice home games coming up and there are 21 points to play for.

"It is going to be tough, but it is certainly not out of our reach because the team which finishes seventh could qualify this year.

"Last year, we just missed out with 56 points, but if we can get two or three points off that this time, it might be enough for Europe. It was a brilliant season last season and it was always our aim to try to match that."

Both Barry and Villa turned in probably their best display of the campaign at St James' Park to record a memorable win and the defender admits the fact O'Leary is on the look out for new players might have sparked some of his team-mates into life.

He said: "It will be in a lot of players' minds; certainly, you do think about it, but the lads responded because it was definitely our best performance of the season.

"To come away from home and beat Newcastle 3-0 is not going to happen too many times in your career - the lads will cherish it."

Barry tucked away both his second-half penalties with aplomb after Juan Pablo Angel's early opener.

Nolberto Solano was meant to be Villa's penalty-taker after the Fulham debacle in January, when Angel had two spot kicks saved in one game, but the Peruvian was only on the bench at Newcastle - after arriving back on Friday from international action - leaving Barry on penalty duty

He added: "I had a little feeling at half-time that we might get a penalty and Nobby [ Solano] wasn't playing.

"For the first one, there was a lot of pressure and the nerves were creaping in but, once that went in, I was comfortable enough with the second one.

"I've only ever missed one penalty and it will be tough to get me off the next one - even for Nobby."