Alan Shearer has admitted he never dreamt Newcastle could be on the brink of relegation so soon as his glittering playing career drew to a close.
Shearer retired three years ago with 206 Newcastle goals to his name and could not have envisaged that the club that had secured three successive top-five finishes in the Barclays Premier League, reached two FA Cup finals, enjoyed two Champions League campaigns and contested a UEFA Cup semi-final during his time there, would so quickly be fighting for top-flight survival.
He said: "No, I am as surprised as anyone at the situation we are in. But we are in it, so we have got to face it head on and we have got to get out of it, and that's what we are trying to do."
Newcastle's hopes of preserving their 16-year stay in the Premier League rest on the final three games of a traumatic season, although there is little doubt that if they do not beat derby rivals Middlesbrough at St James' on Monday evening, they can all but wave goodbye to the big time.
With both sides locked together inside the relegation on 31 points - the Magpies are better off only on goal difference - and three points adrift of safety, a failure to win for either could prove fatal.
He said: "We are in the situation we are in - and Middlesbrough are as well - because previous results haven't gone as well as people would have hoped.
"But I believe we have still got enough time, I still believe we have got enough in the dressing room to get us out of this and I have got confidence in my squad.
"The pleasing thing is that results keep going for us elsewhere. Yes, there have been one or two occasions when we could have changed that ourselves and we haven't.
"But, from a positive side of things, other teams haven't taken advantage of that, so we are all still in it, we are all still fighting and we will be fighting to the very end, believe me."
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