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Perez Prepared To Lead The Line

NUFC Logo Newcastle United FC

Ayoze Perez is ready to play as Newcastle's main centre-forward at Stoke if Aleksandar Mitrovic fails to shake off a knee injury

By Dan King - Newcastle United Digital Editor

Ayoze Perez says he is ready to lead the line for Newcastle United against Stoke City on Wednesday night.

The Spaniard is the Magpies' joint second-top goalscorer this season with five goals, but has tended to play behind the main striker or out wide this season.

However, on occasions last term he was used as United's main striker - and responded by netting a number of important goals.

And, with Aleksandar Mitrovic a doubt for the trip to the Britannia Stadium because of a knee injury, Perez could be deployed as Newcastle's centre-forward once more against the Potters.

But the former CD Tenerife star, who signed a new five-and-a-half year contract with the Magpies last month, told nufc.co.uk: "I'm ready for it.

"If I have to play as a striker, I'll do it without problems. We've got some players back, and it's nice to see them again. We've got many options to choose from, so the manager will decide."

Mitrovic took part in training on Friday, while Emmanuel Riviere is now fit and Papiss Cisse is closing in on a return to action.

But whoever plays up front will have to find a way past England goalkeeper Jack Butland, who made a string of fantastic saves when the two sides met at St. James' Park in October.

"We drew at home and he made some really good saves for them," recalled Perez. "But we need to try to win this time.

"They're a really good side. They have quality with Bojan, (Marko) Arnautović etcetera. They have a good squad, they are doing well, and we have to be aware of that - but at the same time, always think about our job.

"In some games, we've had some problems in terms of finishing, but I think we're getting more confident and we will get more goals. It will come against Stoke, I'm sure."

Newcastle were without a competitive fixture last week and have another blank weekend ahead due to Manchester City's involvement in the Capital One Cup final on Sunday.

That will give other sides in and around the bottom three an opportunity to gain ground on the Magpies, but Perez insists he is not too worried about what other teams do.

"We have to concentrate and stay focused on ourselves, do our job and, most importantly, bring home some points because we need them," he said.

"We want to play as soon as possible. We want to win. We've got 12 more games, so we've got a hard calendar, but we will be together and try to get a win."

Last week, United headed to La Manga for a five-day training camp, which included a 2-1 friendly victory over Norwegian side Lillestrom.

And, speaking about the trip to his home country, Perez said: "It was a good thing for us. We were together over there and I think it was a good idea.

"Now we are even more together to go ahead for these 12 games."