Vurnon Anita urges Magpies to stay focused

Vurnon Anita has insisted Newcastle United cannot afford to lose focus as they reach the halfway point of the Championship season.

United slipped to second place on Monday, two points behind leaders Brighton & Hove Albion, following a 1-0 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday at St James' Park.

The Magpies are six points ahead of third place Reading and boast a far superior goal difference but the Dutchman is determined to increase the gap.

“We can’t lose the confidence or focus. We just keep working hard in training and keep going. Everyone wants to win here, and we need to be ready,” said Anita. “We want to win every time and we take that mentality into every game.”

Benchwarmer to Benitez favourite

Despite finding himself on the bench for most of last season under Steve McClaren - the 27-year-old has been a regular for Rafael Benitez’ side so far this campaign with 20 appearances to his name.

Anita admitted he is “really enjoying” his role in the team and added: “I just keep working hard to do my best. It’s always nice to hear your name, but even if I don’t I still work hard.”

The Dutchman knows he needs to work hard in order to keep USA international DeAndre Yedlin out of the team, who has impressed when given the opportunity.

Anita thrives off the competition for places, “It can only be a good thing. It is friendly competition with everybody.

“When you play you need to be ready,” insisted the Dutchman. “Even the guys on the bench are ready to come on and make an impact for the team.”

Potential midfield role

There have been calls from fans to move the versatile Anita into centre midfield during Jonjo Shelvey’s absence. It is a position he is familiar with and where he featured mostly for the Magpies before the arrival of Benitez.

The manager admitted after the loss to Sheffield Wednesday that his side struggled to create chances and it would be no surprise to see a number of chances made for the game against Nottingham Forest on Friday.