Jonjo Shelvey discusses whether he is concerned about Sunderland's game in hand

St James Park

The Newcastle United midfielder insists Newcastle's survival bid "is not about Sunderland" despite the Black Cats holding a joker in the pack.

Newcastle United midfielder Jonjo Shelvey has insisted to the Chronicle that his side's battle to avoid relegation "is not about Sunderland" despite the fact that the Magpies' rivals have the potential advantage of a game in hand.

Shelvey's side moved out of the relegation zone for the first time since February last weekend as Andros Townsend's free kick gave them a priceless 1-0 win over Crystal Palace.

That victory extended Newcastle's unbeaten run to four matches and took their points tally from that run to eight, nearly a quarter of their season's total.

That improved run of form from Rafael Benitez's men has given them a slender advantage in the battle for survival, but they sit just a single point ahead of Sunderland and two points above Norwich City, with both of those clubs holding a potentially crucial game in hand over the Tyneside club.

However, Shelvey insisted that he is unconcerned about that theoretical advantage, insisting that if Newcastle win their remaining two games then they will have "no worries".

The midfielder told the Chronicle: "It’s not about Sunderland, it’s about us. They will nick the odd point here and there, that’s what Sam Allardyce does.  He sets up his teams not to get beat.

"But if we win our games we will have no worries. Sunderland nicked a goal at the end of their game, but the main thing is, if we win our games we will be all right." 

Shelvey's point is clear, but the fact of the matter is that Newcastle do have to take an interest in Sunderland's results as Newcastle winning both of their remaining games theoretically even could not be enough, given the Black Cats' game in hand.

Newcastle will take heart from the fact that Sunderland must overcome Chelsea at the Stadium of Light tomorrow whilst they themselves travel to already-relegated Aston Villa.

However, Sunderland's game in hand is against an Everton side who have the bare minimum left to play for after an underwhelming season, and their final-day opponents Watford are in a similar situation whilst Newcastle will be hosting a Spurs side looking to seal second place.

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