Five NUFC players who must up their game with just 12 games of the season left to play

As many anticipated back in the summer, it’s been a tough old season for NUFC, however it’s fair to say that there’s been a few players performing well below their best over the last few weeks and months.

With 12 games to go and some tough fixtures yet to come, this has to change, with us we needing each and every player to perform if we’re going to beat the drop.

With this in mind, here’s five players I feel must rediscover some form over the run in:

Matt Ritchie

A big one for me. He got in double figures for goals and assists last season, and although this is a big step up, we’ve not seen nearly enough from him in the attacking third.

With Islam Slimani now a big target to hit in the box, it would be a huge boost if his left foot started finding the target more often in the coming weeks.

Ayoze Perez

He’s so often struggled in the number 10 role over the past 18 months, but let’s face it, we haven’t really got any other options in that position? With Slimani likely to be playing just ahead of him for the remainder of the season, Perez’s role is now key.

He has his moments, playing well at Stoke and bagging 2 in the cup against Luton, but he needs to do more. His second half performance against Palace was simply not good enough for a team that needed to be scrapping for every ball.

Jonjo Shelvey

Shelvey’s talent is undeniable, but we need to see it more often. In these ‘winnable’ games we have left I want to see him take games by the scruff of the neck and make things happen.

On the flip side, I also want to see him in dig in and keep going when the going gets tough and we see little of the ball. Palace away on Sunday was a prime example. He stood out in the first half when we were on top, but he disappeared in the 2nd when we needed him most.

Dwight Gayle

Slimani will hopefully do the business in front of goal between now and the end of the season, but if he were to struggle or suffer a reoccurrence of his thigh injury then you’d like to hope Gayle could step up.

Joselu is not a natural goalscorer so is unlikely to fire us to safety, however Gayle showed last season that he knows where the back of the net is. We may need him to rediscover that form if anything were to happen to the Leicester loanee. Solely relying on Slimani would be a dangerous game.

Christian Atsu

At the start of the season he was our main out-ball and our most threatening attacking player. He’s had his moments since, with him being the MOTM in our away win at West Ham over Christmas, but he’s gone totally off the boil since then.

Given our dominance against Burnley last week, that should’ve been a game where he tormented their defence, but instead he never looked like running at them or making something happen. He’s a confidence player, but I’m hoping he regains that quickly as he can be the difference for us when he turns up.

There’s more contenders, but these are the 5 I think we would benefit most from if they got back to their best..

(Fancy writing for us? Send any articles/ideas over to us at [email protected] & we’ll get back to you!)

About Olly Hawkins

Born in Gateshead, Olly was a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan - he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC.

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