It's STILL not over! Ayoze Perez gives his view on the relegation battle, Newcastle's friendly in Spain '“ and THAT goal

If a week's a long time in politics, then three weeks is an eternity in football.

Friday, 16th March 2018, 8:39 am
Updated Friday, 16th March 2018, 8:40 am
Ayoze Perez

Ayoze Perez, for one, just wants to play.

Newcastle United have an unwelcome break in their Premier League fixture list.

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And Perez, for his part, has welcomed Rafa Benitez’s decision to arrange a friendly against Royal Antwerp in Spain.

Benitez – whose side beat Southampton 3-0 at the weekend to move up to 13th place in the Premier League – took his players to Murcia yesterday for a four-day trip.

Newcastle have an extended break because of Tottenham Hotspur’s progress in the FA Cup and two rounds of international games.

United return to action on March 31 when relegation rivals Huddersfield Town visit St James’s Park.

Newcastle, with eight games left to play, are eight points short of the 40-point safety mark.

“It would be better for us to have a (Premier League) game before the international break, when you can rest a little bit,” said Perez.

“We have 21 days without football, and this training camp in Spain is a great idea. We’re going to play a game that will keep us fit.

“It’s going to keep us fit. It’s not the same as a Premier League, but we have to adapt ourselves and think about doing some great training sessions and being ready for another massive game against Huddersfield.”

United are “one step closer” to securing their Premier League status after the Southampton result, according to Perez.

“It’s massive,” said the 24-year-old. “The game was really important.

“We knew that before the game, and the focus of the team to be ready was massive.

“We knew winning (against Southampton) would mean three important points, and one step closer, and we did it well.”

Perez made a superb run forward for United’s second goal against Southampton.

The forward slipped the ball to Dwight Gayle, who in turn rolled it to Kenedy, who netted his second goal of the game at the far post.

“Going against their two defenders, I think it was the right movements at the right time,” said Perez.

“That helped me to give that pass to Dwight and another pass. That was a brilliant counter-attack.

“It gave us a lot of confidence. It was 2-0 at the end of the first half.

“It means a lot, and I’m happy to help the team. It’s still not over.”

Perez revealed on Twitter that he had lost his grandmother ahead of the Southampton game.

“Last week has been a very hard week for me,” Perez tweeted. “Last Wednesday my grandma passed away, she was like a second mother for me.

“Saturday’s win was for her ... and THANKS to all the fans for the support you showed, it was too much needed for me after some sad days. We keep fighting.”