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Eddie Howe taking nothing for granted as he calls for final push in survival bid

The Magpies head into the weekend sitting nine points clear of the drop zone.

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Newcastle head coach Eddie Howe has called for a reset ahead of the final nine games of the season (Richard Sellers/PA)

Newcastle head coach Eddie Howe has called for a reset ahead of the final nine games of the season (Richard Sellers/PA)

Newcastle head coach Eddie Howe has called for a reset ahead of the final nine games of the season (Richard Sellers/PA)

Newcastle boss Eddie Howe has urged his players to reset ahead of a nine-game mini-season as they attempt to finally kill off their Premier League relegation fears.

Those members of the Magpies squad not on international duty spent part of the latest break in the league programme at a warm weather training camp in Dubai. That came with Newcastle having engineered a nine-point cushion over the bottom three, despite suffering back-to-back defeats at Chelsea and Everton in their last two outings.

However as he prepares to send out his team for a fourth successive away game at Tottenham on Sunday, Howe is refusing to take anything for granted.

He said: “We’re still in a relegation battle – and I don’t say that in any way without meaning it. We need points.

“We’ve got a very tough run of fixtures ahead of us – I think we’ve got a difficult run-in – so we have to maximise every game.

“We’ve had a really, really difficult spell of games, a lot of away games – I think that’s under-estimated, how difficult that period has been for us, especially around the Chelsea and Everton games.

“It just felt like we were constantly on the road, so we’re pleased to have had the time away to reset and now really focus on the final nine games.”

The trip to north London to face an in-form Spurs side – Antonio Conte’s men have won four of their last five league games – would have been tough enough without fresh Covid-19 cases within the Magpies squad and the late return from international duty of Chris Wood, Bruno Guimaraes and Miguel Almiron.

But Howe is confident the bond formed between the staff and players since he arrived at St James’ Park in November will help to see them over the line as they bid to become the first Premier League side to stay up after winning none of their first 14 games.

He said: “I feel we’ve got that bond, hopefully, with the squad where we’ve all got the same goals, that we want the same outcomes, we’re going to do it together and also in good times and in bad, we have to stand strong side-by-side.

“I can’t compliment the squad enough for what they’ve given me since I’ve come in, me and my staff. They’ve been incredible and now we’ve got to finish the job.

“We’ve got some difficult fixtures to come, but I firmly believe we can do it.”

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