Mohamed Diame is determined to get Jonjo Shelvey on the ball as Newcastle United fight to stay in the Premier League.
Diame has hit form in recent months.
And the midfielder’s powerful presence in midfield has allowed Shelvey to prosper alongside him.
Diame, used as a No 10 in the Championship last season, has suited a deeper role this term.
For his part, Diame is happy to “cover” Shelvey – and let him play higher up the pitch.
“I’ve known Jonjo for a long time now, I know how good he is,” said Diame. “So I’m trying to cover him when I can and help him to get on the ball.
I know what it’s like to fight and stay up. I did it for three years at Wigan, for two years with Hull, with West Ham as well.Mohamed Diame
“We know that when Jonjo gets on the ball, he can deliver how he did against Southampton and win games for us.”
Diame, signed from Hull City in the summer of 2016, has experienced relegation battles before in his career.
United are 13th in the division and four points above the relegation zone with eight games left to play.
“I know what it’s like to fight and stay up,” said the former Senegal international. “I did it for three years at Wigan, for two years with Hull, with West Ham as well.
“I know what it takes, but a lot of players here are still young. We just need to fight. We know our jobs, and what the manager expects from us.
“The manager keeps telling us we need to fight to stay in this division, because every single team can beat every single other team.
“It’s about keeping your shape, working hard and making as few mistakes as possible.”
Diame retired from international football with Senegal a year ago to concentrate on his club career.
And the 30-year-old – who struggled for form last season – is playing as well as he can remember in the Premier League.
“Playing week in and week out really helps a lot,” said Diame. “When you play three or four games in a row, you have extra power in the game and more fitness.
“This helps you to be much better. I’m trying to give my best game after game until we reach our target.
“We’ve got eight games left, eight finals.”
Diame believes the”fighting spirit” forged in the Championship is proving invaluable this season.
“There is a real fighting spirit that we have built during this season, just like we did in the Championship last year,” said Diame.
“I think games like we played against Stoke away, West Ham away ... in these games we kept the shape of our team, and that allows us to feel strong together.
“It’s helped us a lot, but now we much build from this and just keep going.”
Newcastle return to action on Saturday when Huddersfield Town visit St James’s Park.
Huddersfield, promoted with Newcastle and Brighton and Hove Albion last season, are 15th in the Premier League.
“At the start of every season you have to have targets,” said Diame. “Our target was clear. We have been working from the very first game to stay in this division.
“We have done well so far, and we’re on track, but still there are eight games left. We need to stay focused and keep working.”
United beat Southampton 3-0 before a 21-day fixture break.
“When you’ve got a long break like we have, then it is always important to win before you go away,” said Diame.
“Let’s see if we can get another big win in what is a final for us against Huddersfield at the end of the month.”