Newcastle must learn to find their clinical edge – that’s the view of United full-back DeAndre Yedlin.
The American was part of the Magpies side who cruised to a 3-1 victory over Birmingham City in the FA Cup on Wednesday.
He’s the kind of player who can control games single-handedly
And while Rafa Benitez’s men were well worth their place in the fourth round after a dominant display, in which Matt Ritchie’s double and a Yoan Gouffran goal sealed progression, old habits resurfaced.
Two goals to the good the hosts took their eye off the ball and allowed the Blues, second best from minute one, the opportunity to get back in it. David Cotterill duly obliged, netting to conjure up a nervy close, with the game not put to bed until the second minute of added time.
Ahead of a return to Championship action against Rotherham tomorrow, Yedlin knows United need to make sure they shut the door on their opponents, or risk losing ground in the race for promotion.
“I think we can still do a bit better job putting the game away,” said Yedlin, again expected to start on the right of the back four at St James’ Park.
“We need to do it earlier, although I think it was a good performance.
“I think we came out and got on the front foot and scored two early goals.
“We just need a little bit more game management and I think with that it would have been a top, top performance.”
Some might feel Yedlin’s words are a touch harsh given that Newcastle completed the rare feat of making past the third round for the first time since 2012.
But he was even more critical of his own show.
The USA international said: “I think I could have been a bit more lethal with my crosses.
“But at the end of the day they didn’t have too many chances.
“The goal they did score I think I could have closed the guy down a bit better but it happens and you learn. The most important thing is we got the win.”
Benitez handed debuts to three Magpies reserve team players on the night and Yedlin admits he was impressed, even if it meant that he became one of the more experienced heads in the campa, at the age of just 23.
“It puts a bit more responsibility on the rest of us because they’re coming in and they’re nervous,” he said.
“They want to do the best they can so you try to give them as much confidence as possible and if they make mistakes, keep them positive and be positive with them.
“I applaud all of them. I think they all had very good performances.
“It’s exciting to see the young talent coming through the system.”
While the youngster’s showing was a positive from the encounter, the biggest boost to the United XI was the return of Jonjo Shelvey.
“It’s huge getting him back,” said the defender.
“He’s a key player for our squad and we saw that on Wednesday night. We’re all very happy to have him back.”
Yedlin just hopes Shelvey’s return is not short-lived. He is praying midfielder stays fit between now and the end of the season, because he can win a game single-handedly for United.
“He’s the kind of player who can control games single-handedly so he’s a great guy to have on your team. He wants the best for the team, which is very important.
“I guess we’re very happy and fortunate to have him. We’re looking forward to having him for the rest of the season.”