Ki Sung-Yueng insists Newcastle players are starting to look up the table, while still keeping a wary eye below them, with the club now having a six point cushion between themselves and the drop-zone.
Ki made his return to the Newcastle starting lineup for Saturday’s spectacular come-from-behind win against Everton, having found it difficult to break back into the side following his Asian Cup exploits and recovery from a subsequent injury which cut his tournament short.
The South Korean had to be patient due to the outstanding form of youngsters Isaac Hayden and Sean Longstaff. But a serious injury to the latter meant Ki got his chance, and in football one player’s misfortune is another’s opportunity.
With United’s great run of five consecutive home wins easing relegation fears, Ki acknowledged that they need to be more “disciplined” and “compact” away from home.
He told the NUFC.co.uk: “As a player, of course you want to go higher — you don’t want to stay at the bottom of the table all the time. Now we have games that we can have a go in. We don’t underestimate the teams who are below us, but we have to have more confidence that we can go even higher.
“Confidence gets higher which is very, very important at this stage of the season, because we are still fighting relegation. Of course we are in a good position, but it’s not finished yet. We still have eight games to go and we have to win as many as we can.
Looking forward to the game on the South coast, he added: “It’s going to be a difficult game because they are above us and it’s their home game, so they will have an advantage.
“But we beat them at home, so like normal we will give our best. We have to be more disciplined, especially in away games when it’s more difficult, so we have to be more compact.”
After the influence fit again Jonjo Shelvey had in his cameo appearance against Everton on Saturday, it would be no surprise to see him come into the side for Saturday’s long trip, and with Hayden in such good form, it would likely be the Korean who dropped out.
But with Shelvey ready to take his chance, and a fully fit Mo Diame also available, it is a nice problem for the manager to have.
Certainly away from home, Shelvey’s ability to pick out a killer pass will give the Magpies their best chance of picking up a win, but it remains to be seen if Rafa sees it the same way.
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