A RESURGENT run of form has seen Newcastle United haul themselves towards midtable and another season in the top-flight, though they are not safe just yet.
With a Championship return beckoning Huddersfield Town and Fulham, it is difficult to look beyond a clutch of six clubs aiming to stay out of the drop zone.
Rafael Benitez’s team is among that group as are Crystal Palace, Brighton, Southampton, Burnley and Cardiff, all involved in the scrap to stay up, one which Newcastle must be optimistic of winning after five wins in their last eight league games.
All of those wins, however, have been a St James’ Park. Victory tomorrow when go to Bournemouth, the team directly above them in the table in 12th position, would further enhance Magpies’ prospects of achieving a mid-table position.
"We still have to go over the line,” warned midfielder Ki Sung-Yeung.
“It's not finished yet. We have a lot of positives. We lost at West Ham, but everyone still believed we could be better than this position in the Premier League.
“There are eight games to go, and we give everything each game, and then see how it goes."
Last weekend Ki started the dramatic 3-2 win over Everton, Benitez selecting the South Korean to replace the injured Sean Longstaff for what was his first Newcastle appearance since December 22.
A spell of international duty and an injury had sidelined the 30year-old, during which time Longstaff took his chance to shine, but he is now sidelined leading to Ki coming back into contention.
"I was very frustrated, especially when I got injured in the Asian Cup in the first game, which I never expected,” he said.
“It was very disappointing, but this is life. In football, you can have injuries, and sometimes you have to wait for your chance to play. This is football life.
“I just waited, recovered well and tried to be in the team. I worked as hard as I could on the training ground. I'm very pleased that we won and hopefully myself and the team will be better and better.”
Ki’s comeback was certainly well-timed, and he played the most of the match as the Magpies recovered from being 2-0 down at half-time to win 3-2, Ayoze Perez scoring two goals in the final ten minutes.
By that stage Ki had tired and was replaced by substitute Jonjo Shelvey. Ki added: “I played 45 minutes against Moscow, but this was a proper league game. Of course, I was not 100 per cent match fit, but I tried to give everything on the pitch.
“Hopefully, my form will be better and better and better as I play more games. I was just very pleased that we won.”
In the face of a hostile atmosphere and facing a Newcastle team that altered its approach half-time, changing formation, Everton crumbled once Salomon Rondon pulled a goal back midway through the second 45 minutes.
"It was amazing with all the passion from the supporters,” added Ki.
“All this support from the fans was amazing. Everton had a lot of pressure from the fans, especially after we scored the first one. The fans believed it as well, that we could get something from this game. It helped a lot. Hopefully, they'll always be behind us.
"At half-time the gaffer said to us if we score one goal, and make it 2-1, the pressure will go to them. We all agreed that we would have possibilities to score in the second half, and as soon as we scored the first one, everyone believed that we could make it.
"At the end we scored two more goals. I think the second half was more calm. We didn't think about the result. Everyone just focused on scoring the first goal, and after that everything came to us.
"Maybe our desire to win the game was better in the second half. Even though we conceded two goals in the first half, we never gave up.
"We scored three goals in the second half. It was not easy to do it. Everyone was very pleased. We just keep going for the next game against Bournemouth.”