Isaac Hayden says it’s too early to talk about Newcastle United being in a relegation battle.
The club dropped into the bottom three after Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.
Newcastle have lost eight of their last nine Premier League games – and bookmakers have cut the odds on the club going down.
However, Hayden believes talk of a relegation battle is premature ahead of Saturday’s game against West Ham United at the London Stadium.
The fixture marks the halfway point in the season, by which time manager Rafa Benitez had hoped his side would have at least 20 points.
United go into the game with 15 points.
There are 20 games left. You can’t be talking about relegation battles now. There’s so much more football to play.Isaac Hayden
Asked about the club’s league position, midfielder Hayden said: “We’re not looking at that – there are 20 games left.
“You can’t be talking about relegation battles now. There’s so much more football to play.
“Apart from the top six, I think it’s anyone’s game, really. We’ll try our best to get as high as we can.
“If we play like we did (against Arsenal), we’ll have a lot more opportunities to get points in the future.”
Benitez’s players were applauded off the pitch at the Emirates Stadium by the club’s 2,900 travelling fans.
Mesut Ozil had claimed all three points for Arsene Wenger’s side with a stunning first-half volley.
However, Newcastle fought hard to stay in the game after going behind.
And Ayoze Perez could have claimed a point with a late header which he put wide of Petr Cech’s goal.
“Really, the game was decided on one bit of world-class quality,” said Hayden, signed from Arsenal last year.
“The goal was a great finish, and it ended up deciding the game.
“We were toe-to-toe with them in the second half, and, really, we could have nicked something if we were a bit luckier.
“There’s a lot to be positive about after that performance, especially playing at the Emirates.
“It’s a tough place to come. They keep the ball really well and make you run and work.
“I thought we did that really well. We closed a lot of the lines and limited them to few clearcut chances. Second half, we matched them.
“We could have nicked something had we been a bit more clinical.
“When you play against Arsenal away, they’re going to limit you to less chances.
“You’re running, closing gaps and defending for long periods of time. When you do get the ball, you have to use it really well.
“They press high up the pitch and get the ball back as quickly as possible.
“We had to be very patient when we did get the ball. I thought we did that quite well, but you want points, and we didn’t get any.”
Hayden left Arsenal without having played a league game for the club.
The 22-year-old had been pencilled in to play in a league fixture against Hull City – the club he would later join on loan – but he suffered an ankle injury on the eve of the game and went on to spend eight months on the sidelines.
When he returned to fitness, he realised he would not get another chance at his boyhood club.
Hayden has long thought about his return to the Emirates Stadium, though he left “frustrated” that Newcastle hadn’t been able to claim a point from the game.
“It was nice to play against them, but I just wanted to try and get some points for the club,” said the England Under-21 international.
“It’s a very difficult stage at the moment, and it’s frustrating not to get a point.
“We can only keep working and keep doing what we’ve been doing in training and keep listening to the manager.
“If we play like that for the rest of the season against the lesser teams, if you call it that, I think we’ll be OK.”