Newcastle sent relegation warning by Paul Merson ahead of Premier League restart | Football | Sport


Paul Merson believes Newcastle are at risk of slipping into relegation trouble when the Premier League resumes later this month.

Newcastle currently sit 13th in the table on 35 points with nine games to play.

And the first match back will be a home clash with high-flying Sheffield United.

However, following the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, fans will not be allowed to attend matches for the rest of the season.

When St James’ Park is rocking, it is widely considered to be one of the best grounds in the Premier League.

The league is in discussions over how to incorporate fans into the atmosphere with the use of audio effects and computer-generated ‘supporters’.

With an eight-point gap to the relegation zone and a favourable run-in, Newcastle could ensure their safety with a couple of wins.

But Merson believes the Magpies are far from safe and could be vulnerable without support from fans.

“I think there’s more than six teams involved in the relegation battle now. I think anyone with less than 40 points is still at risk,” he told the Daily Star.

“That means teams like Newcastle, Southampton, Everton, Crystal Palace and Burnley can’t relax.

“One or two wins and most of them should be okay. But lose your first two games back and it could be very hard to recover. The pressure will be on.

“Before, if you had a bad game, you’d have a week to put it right and prepare for the next one. Now it’s just going to be play, rest, play. No time to work on things.

“If you don’t hit the ground running you could be in the bottom three very quickly.

“That’s an advantage for the teams who are chasing. It’s easier to make up ground quickly.

“I fear for Newcastle the most because they might struggle without 50,000 unbelievable fans behind them at home.

“Those fans keep your concentration levels high. They help you. With no crowd, you lose focus. And Newcastle might feel that more than anyone else.”

Meanwhile, the Newcastle squad played an inter-team friendly on Saturday afternoon at an empty St James’ as they stepped up their preparations.

The match finished 1-1 with Joelinton and Nabil Bentaleb scoring for either side.

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