Jamaal Lascelles says Newcastle United must mind the gap as they look to secure promotion to the Premier League.
The club leads the Championship by three points ahead of tomorrow’s home game against Fulham.
It’s been a big week, because it’s not just been a case of getting three points. It’s been a case of taking three points off other sides as well and creating that gap.Jamaal Lascelles
Crucially, Newcastle are nine points ahead of third-placed Huddersfield Town, beaten 3-1 at the John Smith’s Stadium by Rafa Benitez’s side last weekend.
That victory followed a 2-1 success over second-placed Brighton and Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium.
United end a tough three-game run of away games with a goalless draw against fifth-placed Reading on Tuesday night.
Captain Lascelles said: “It’s been a big week, because it’s not just been a case of getting three points.
“It’s been a case of taking three points off other sides as well and creating that gap.
“We want that gap. We want to keep it and increase it. Every game’s a cup final, and we’re not going to take our foot off the gas at all.
“If somebody had said to us before these three away games ‘would you take seven points?’, we’d have grabbed their hands off. All three teams are tough sides, and they’re all looking for promotion – the same as us.”
Newcastle had the better of the first half at the Madejski Stadium, but they tired after the break and Reading struck the crossbar in injury time.
“I’m pretty happy,” said Lascelles. “We had a lot of chances, but at the other end we defended very well, so as a defender I’m pleased with how the team conducted themselves. We’ve put in a great shift – you can tell how tired the boys are.
“The midfield has been excellent this week, looking after the back four, but individually and collectively throughout the whole team I’m really pleased with how everyone has played.
“We had to make sure we left with minimum a point.
“Reading are a good side, and they move the ball really well side to side, but I didn’t feel like they could hurt us going forwards.
“It’s the Championship, though, so anything can happen, but we did all we could to counter them and I thought we were unlucky not to get a goal. But we go again on Saturday.”
United equalled a club record of 13 away wins with their victory over Huddersfield. Asked about the transformation away from home, Lascelles said: “Everyone knows their role and responsibility.
“We always say we need to start the game brightly, let the other team know we’re not here to mess about, and then we outwork the other teams.
“It’s about putting it in the back of the net, and teams find it difficult to do that against us.”
United, held to a 2-2 draw at home by struggling Bristol City, have fared better away from home than at St James’s Park this season.
“We need to put things right back at St James’s Park, because in our last home game we didn’t start too well,” said Lascelles.
“So against Fulham I want us to start well and get on the front foot early on.”
Newcastle, beaten by Fulham on the opening weekend of the season, are unbeaten in 11 league games.
Lascelles added: “We’re very positive we can extend our unbeaten run.
“It’s about time we sorted out our home form and really kick on at St James’s Park.
“We owe Fulham one as well.
“Every game is massive for us, and all we’re looking for is the three points. Hopefully, that’s what we can deliver.”