Newcastle shot-stopper Martin Dubravka has played down the importance of the weekend’s relegation six-pointer with Brighton.
What’s the story?
The Slovakian international has insisted the clash is not a ‘must-win’ game.
That is despite the fact that the Magpies make the long trip to the south coast on Saturday just one point adrift of the 16th placed Seagulls.
Hovering just two points clear of the Premier League’s relegation zone, a defeat to Brighton and a Fulham victory against Leeds would see the Cottagers move into safety – at Newcastle’s expense.
Newcastle have won just two of their last 19 matches in all competitions and will be desperate to rectify that record in such a crucial game.
Despite the gravitas of the fixture, Dubravka has been keen to pitch a different attitude:
“I want to win every game, no matter what team I play against,” Dubravka told NUFC TV.
“The Brighton game is important but It is not crucial because we still have other games in front of us. It is important to try and win the game with the right mentality and the right attitude.
“We don’t want to put in our minds that we have to win the game. No, we don’t have to. We want to because three points will be massive but, overall, we have some other games.
“The players are hungry and it is time to show it on the pitch now.
“I think you can clearly see after the game against Villa that everybody wanted to win the game. We created a lot of chances and we felt like this was a game we could have won.
“We are nearly there so we need to hope the goals will come.
“It is not easy to be in this position, especially mentally, and you can feel the pressure. But, for me, I always try to prepare myself in a positive way.
“It is important to try and get this club as high as possible. At this moment in time, it is to stay in the league which won’t be easy but every player has the quality and it is up to us to prove it on the pitch.
“We have to have a mentality and a self-confidence as well. I really hope we show it on Saturday against Brighton.”
Dubravka is certainly right to take the sting out of the mounting pressure, but that skirts around the fact that the implications of a defeat could nonetheless have major reverberations around the bottom end of the league.
There is a certain rationale here, but Newcastle will surely not get a better time to make a signal of intent to rivals that they belong in this league.