Players are up for survival battle - Hughton

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Caretaker Newcastle boss Chris Hughton has insisted his under-pressure players are putting the club's future ahead of their own.

The Magpies have nine games remaining in which to preserve their Barclays Premier League status, and a failure to do so could spark a mass exodus from St James' Park.

Hughton said: "The most important thing is they are fighting for the club's survival."

Skipper Michael Owen is out of contract at the end of the season and has delayed making a decision on the new deal he was offered at the turn of the year, while the likes of Obafemi Martins and Sebastien Bassong have already been linked with moves away from Tyneside.

There is little doubt the club would have to make huge cuts in its wage bill should the worst happen, and that too would have significant implications for the playing staff.

However, Hughton is adamant that all personal concerns have been put to one side as the players concentrate on the task of ensuring top-flight football is played at St James' next season.

He added: "The fear of this club not being in this division next season supercedes absolutely everything.

"I don't think at this moment players are thinking anywhere near about their futures.

"What they are thinking about is making sure we win enough games, get enough points, to stay in this division.

"Any thoughts of the future come at the end of the season."

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Michael Owen
Premier League
Newcastle United
Obafemi Martins
Sebastien Bassong

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