Christian Atsu targets goals as he’s put on standby by Newcastle United’s Rafa Benitez

Newcastle United's Christian Atsu.
Newcastle United's Christian Atsu.

Christian Atsu says he is working harder than ever at Newcastle United as he bids to help the club back into the Premier League.

Atsu is on standby to line up for the Championship leaders against Cardiff City on Saturday with Matt Ritchie suspended.

Ritchie picked up an automatic one-game ban for his booking in the weekend’s 2-1 win over Preston North End at Deepdale, where Atsu came off the bench.

Atsu has made two Championship starts – and scored one league goal – for the club so far this season.

The winger, on a season-long loan from Chelsea, was frustrated to twice hit the woodwork in last week’s 6-0 EFL Cup win over Preston at St James’s Park.

Atsu also struck the bar on his debut against Queens Park Rangers in September.

“I want to score goals,” said the 24-year-old.

“I want to help the team in any way.

“I just want to be a better player in each and every aspect.

“I can’t continue missing chances like that. I need to work harder. I was very frustrated I didn’t score, but I was very happy we won.

“I want to add more goals to my game. I want to improve in every area.”

United manager Rafa Benitez is considering a permanent move for Atsu, who has had a series of loans in recent years.

Newcastle could even attempt to do a deal for Atsu in the January transfer window.

The Ghana international, however, is reluctant to look beyond the next game.

Asked about his future, Atsu said: “I want to help the team – that’s more important.

“We need this togetherness in the dressing room and on the pitch.

“I have to keep supporting the team, even when I’m not playing.

“When I’m playing I have to work hard. We have a very good team. I’m really happy to be playing for Newcastle.”

Atsu – who spent the second half of last season at Malaga – was the the last of the club’s 12 summer signings.

The pacy player, signed by Chelsea in 2013, feels the players have the “right mentality”, though he knows there is a long way to go in the 46-game Championship.

“We have a good team spirit and we have the right mentality,” said Atsu. “We need to keep that.

“We have a great squad, but there are a lot of games in the Championship. We need to take it game by game.”