Newcastle United host Southampton in the Premier League on Saturday aiming to ease further away from the relegation places.
The Magpies’ impressive 1-0 victory at Leicester City last weekend left them 15th in the table, 10 points above the drop zone with four games to play.
Ayoze Perez’s eighth goal of the season earned Newcastle a 1-0 win at the King Power Stadium and gave them a healthy cushion over the bottom three.
The teams directly below Newcastle in the standings all have games in hand, but another win should be enough to guarantee Premier League football at St James’ Park next season.
Newcastle are favourites in the betting with Bet365 to win the match, although it would be unwise to underestimate Southampton’s chances.
Saints will travel to the North East in a buoyant mood having deservedly beaten Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-1 at St Mary’s last weekend.
Nathan Redmond scored twice and Shane Long bagged a third as Southampton moved eight points clear of 18th-placed Cardiff City.
The home side will be without Florian Lejeune and Sean Longstaff due to injury, but manager Rafa Benitez has no other issues to contend with.
Mario Lemina remains on the sidelines for Southampton, while long-term absentee Michael Obafemi is also ruled out.
The two sides fought out a goalless draw at St Mary’s back in October, with Newcastle picking up a point courtesy of an outstanding performance by goalkeeper Martin Dubravka.
Southampton forward Charlie Austin did put the ball in the back of the net in the second half, but the goal was ruled out after the referee blew for a foul on Dubravka.
Newcastle have lost just one of their last five league meetings with Southampton, a run that includes a comfortable 3-0 victory in last season’s corresponding fixture.
Kenedy (2) and Matt Richie got the goals in a game that marked the first occasion the Magpies had kept a clean sheet in 13 league outings against Southampton, since a 1-0 win back in October 2003.
Three points this weekend would take Newcastle onto 41 for the season and give them a solid platform to end the campaign on a high note.
Fixtures against Brighton & Hove Albion (A), Liverpool (H) and Fulham (A) complete the schedule in what has been another difficult campaign for the club.
The uncertainty over Benitez’s future is a major worry for Newcastle fans, with the Spaniard still stalling over signing a new deal as he waits for answers regarding the club’s transfer policy.
In addition to a revamp of the club’s academy, training ground and scouting network, Benitez has demanded a more coherent transfer strategy so that the Magpies can become more competitive.
Whether Benitez’s wishes are granted remains to be seen, but another positive result this weekend would certainly strengthen his case.