After suffering two successive 1-0 losses, Newcastle travel to Watford on Saturday aiming to return to winning ways and strengthen their position in the top-half of the Premier League.

United were punished for a listless display by West Brom last weekend with the top-flight’s bottom club leaving St James’ Park with three precious points after inflicting a sobering defeat upon Rafa Benitez’s lacklustre side.

Fortunately for Benitez, his players had already guaranteed they would be dining at English football’s top table next season and the loss, albeit frustrating as it ended Newcastle’s unbeaten home record in 2018, didn’t have any serious implications.

That should come into Benitez’s thinking ahead of the visit to Vicarage Road where the Spaniard may opt to tinker with a jaded starting XI that won four matches in a row before running out of steam in the last two matches.

Several fringe players are pushing hard for a chance to impress Benitez and convince him of their worth ahead of summer transfer window when they could be at risk of being jettisoned from Tyneside.