‘It’s not rocket science’ - Defender Grant Hanley urges Newcastle to pick up form again to seal promotion

Newcastle defender Grant Hanley. Picture by Frank Reid
Newcastle defender Grant Hanley. Picture by Frank Reid

Grant Hanley says Newcastle can get over the Championship finishing line – if they stay united.

Rafa Benitez’s side need a maximum of five points from their remaining three games to secure a return to the Premier League.

League leaders Brighton are already promoted.

Newcastle, beaten 3-1 by Ipswich Town on Easter Monday, are looking to regroup this week ahead of a crucial home game against Preston North End on Monday night.

And 25-year-old Hanley, an experienced Championship campaigner, believes unity is strength in the division.

“This is a very hard league,” said the defender.

“We haven’t had too many blips this year, or patches where we’ve struggled, so now it’s time for the lads to get together.

“We need to show our togetherness, show the strength we have in the squad, and make sure we pick it up again.

“We just need to keep going. It speaks for itself really. We’ve got three games to get promoted, so it’s in our own hands.

“It’s not rocket science. If we look after ourselves, we get promoted. That’s what we’re going to do.

“It’ll be a tough test against Preston. Week in and week out in this league it’s difficult, as Ipswich proved.

“Ipswich are a physical side who had a gameplan and knew exactly what to do, which was too much for us in the end.

“Ipswich deserved to win, but we need to regroup and we will make that we have a response come Monday.”

An impressive away record has been the foundation on which United have built their challenge this season.

But Newcastle have not won a fixture on their travels since March 4, when they beat fourth-placed Huddersfield Town at the John Smith’s Stadium.

Huddersfield and third-placed Reading could yet overtake them.

“It’s very disappointing at this stage of the season to lose like that (against Ipswich),” said Hanley, signed from Blackburn Rovers last summer.

“But the good thing is that it’s still in our own hands.

“We now move on to the next game. We get out on the training pitch in the coming days, work hard and focus on that.

“We need to bounce back against Preston.”

On the injuries to key players like Dwight Gayle, Ciaran Clark and Isaac Hayden which have limited Benitez’s options in recent months, Hanley added: “That’s football, and people get injured.

“That’s part and parcel of the game. We’ve got one of the biggest and strongest squads in the Championship, so that’s definitely not an excuse you can use.

“That’s football, and sometimes it goes for you with injuries, sometimes it doesn’t.

“There’ll be no excuses from the lads. We need to look at ourselves, see where we went wrong, and improve on it.”