Premier League safety is the clear priority for Newcastle United this season, according to Ayoze Perez.
But the forward thinks a League Cup win against Nottingham Forest tonight, and a subsequent run in the competition, could spark the Magpies’ season.
Newcastle host Championship outfit Nottingham Forest tonight (7.45pm kick-off) as they make their seasonal bow in the rebranded Carabao Cup.
And while it is a welcome respite from the league, Perez knows where the main focus lies this season.
“Of course the Premier League is the main thing,” said the Spaniard, whose side return to top flight action v West Ham United on Saturday.
“But this kind of game can give you confidence and you can start doing things in the right way.
“We have just started the season, and it is a great test for us to make sure we are getting better for the Premier League.
“It is an opportunity to show character and try to do good things. It can give us confidence, winning that game.
“It could be crucial because it could push us to get better and be focused for West Ham.”
Two defeats from the opening two games was hardly the start anyone would have wanted on Newcastle’s return to the top flight.
But confidence remains that the club can turn things around in the Magpies’ dressing-room, according to Perez, who cites last season’s start to the Championship season as a reason for confidence.
“It has been a bit disappointing to have two defeats in the first two games, but it is just the start of the season. It happened last season, too,” he said.
“The team is confident, and we don’t have to think about anything strange, just focus on tonight.
“We have to remain positive. We have lost two games, but there is still a long way to go and we cannot start making any dramas or anything like that.
“We have to remain focused on our game, and keep thinking about where we can improve.
“If we do that, Newcastle is going to be fine.”
The 24-year-old former Tenerife forward remains upbeat about United’s season.
He added: “There is togetherness here and a good spirit.
“We started last season in the same way too, and you could have said we had a strange situation or a bad situation back then.
“But we stuck together, turned things around and finished really well.
“We all know what happened at the end of the season, and we have to make sure we keep working in the same way this season and trust each other.
“We believe in what we are doing, and that is important. You need that to be able to have a good season.”