JOHN Carver admits Newcastle United are asking too much of Ayoze Perez in the absence of Papiss Demba Cisse.
The 21-year-old is leading the line with Senegal striker Cisse away at the African Cup of Nations.
Perez, a revelation this season after joining from Tenerife, came close to adding to his five goals in Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat to Southampton.
But United lack a player possessing the ability of Graziano Pelle, who was outstanding for the visitors.
Caretaker head coach Carver said: “I don’t think the (managerial) uncertainty stops you putting the ball in the back of the net.
“What does is when you’ve got one of your main strikers out at the African Nations.
“He’s a big asset for this club, and you’re expecting a young lad like Perez to take that responsibility.
“What I will say is he has come up against one of the best defences in the league, and he will benefit from the experience of playing against those guys.”