Ciaran Clark insists that no one’s head has dropped in the Newcastle United dressing-room despite a summer of uncertainty

Newcastle's Ciaran Clark is fouled by Hellas Verona's Daniel Bessa during the pre-season friendly at St James�" Park, Newcastle. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday August 6, 2017. See PA story SOCCER Newcastle. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
Newcastle's Ciaran Clark is fouled by Hellas Verona's Daniel Bessa during the pre-season friendly at St James�" Park, Newcastle. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday August 6, 2017. See PA story SOCCER Newcastle. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.

Negativity has been the common denominator at Newcastle United this summer.

But defender Ciaran Clark says all the managerial uncertainty, transfer woes and even a poor start has not seen heads drop in the Magpies dressing-room.

United have lost their opening two games of the Premier League campaign after a summer of turmoil at St James’s Park.

First there was the ‘will he stay or will he go?’ Rafa Benitez saga, followed by tales of missed transfer targets, broken promises and then massively reduced expectations and budgets.

On the pitch, though, Clark says it is business as usual for United, ahead of this evening’s League Cup second round clash with Nottingham Forest at SJP.

“It’s still upbeat,” the Republic of Ireland international said of mood in the camp this week.

“We lost the first two games last season and then recovered extremely well.

“It’s never nice to lose but we’ll pick our heads up and then try to put right what we’ve done wrong in training and get ready for the two games this week.

“It was one of those frustrating games really. We felt comfortable. I didn’t feel they caused too many problems. But one lapse of concentration has really cost us.

“We have a League Cup game which gives us the chance to put things right and get the win.

“Obviously we want to concentrate on this match, get the win and then go into the league match against West Ham (on Saturday) with confidence.

“We need to get as many points on the board as we can early, and the sooner we get points on the board the better.”

It’s just three months since United secured the Championship title in dramatic fashion on the final day of the season.

The momentum picked up at the back end of that successful campaign seems a long way from where the club sits now.

Whether that momentum has been lost or not, Clark says he is unsure.

But he does know that whatever has happened, on or off the field, at United, expectation would always rise with a return to the Premier League.

“I think there’s expectations on our end because we won the league last season and the size of our football club,” he said.

“The fans, and the players ourselves, we expect to be in the Premier League and I think that brings added pressure but we’ve got to deal with that and not make these mistakes.”

Benitez is almost certain to shuffle his pack for the visit of Forest to SJP this evening.

As a result we are almost certain to see the likes of Jacob Murphy get more gametime, having been sparingly used in the opening two top flight games of the campaign.

The encounter could also see former Stoke City striker Joselu make his full United debut.

Clark admits he has been impressed with what he has seen from the Magpies new boys this season, particularly Mikel Merino.

“The lads have settled in really quickly,” he said.

“Mikel has looked comfortable and he put himself about against Huddersfield, playing a few good passes.

“What Mikel also brings is a bit of control into midfield too which is good to see.

“They’ve settled in really well, Joselu too and all the others, so hopefully they can show more of what they are capable of in the coming games.”

One thing that is for certain, if manager Benitez has anything to do with it, is that Joselu will not be the last player to come through the doors at SJP before the window closes next week.

When it does slam shut United will already be four games into their campaign.

It is situation Benitez finds frustrating, having wanted many of his recruits through the door well in advance of United returning to first-team training at the start of July.

Does Clark think the continued trading into the season can have a disruptive influence on players at United? He was unequivocal in his answer.

Clark said: “I wouldn’t say so no. The transfer window is certain dates and until it closes you never know what the final squad is.

“We just concentrate getting on with our own business and prepare as best we can for games, so that’s what we will continue to do - even after the window shuts.”