Andros Townsend insists he does not regret signing for Newcastle United as the relegation-threatened side prepare for a tough trip to Southampton in the Premier League on Saturday.
Townsend joined Newcastle from title-chasing Tottenham for a reported fee of £12million in January. Capped 10 times by England, the winger was recruited to help fire the Magpies back up the table.
But his arrival, as well as that of manager Rafael Benitez last month in place of the sacked Steve McClaren, is yet to have the desired effect. Newcastle are 19th, six points from safety, with only seven matches of the season remaining.
However, despite facing the prospect of playing in the Championship next season, Townsend claimed he has not questioned his decision to swap White Hart Lane for St James' Park.
"I definitely don't have any regrets," he said. "I'm playing for a massive club and playing Premier League football. I'm playing 90 minutes of games, and I'm 100 per cent delighted with the move I made to Newcastle."
The 24-year-old also offered an impassioned defence of the Newcastle squad, who have come under fire from the club's disgruntled supporters as the team slides toward the second tier.
"It's our livelihood that's at stake," he said.
"You see the fans out there and see how passionate they are, and we're desperate to give them something to cheer about. We gave them two goals [at Norwich], but at the end they were just as dejected as we were," he added, referring to last weekend's 3-2 defeat at Carrow Road.
"I know footballers can be labelled as people who don't care, but you only have to look at the faces in the dressing room to see how much it does mean to us. We're going to try our hardest to get ourselves out of the situation that we're in."
If Newcastle are to pick up vital points in their battle against the drop this weekend, they must do so without a host of key players, although Fabricio Coloccini, Yoan Gouffran, Gabriel Obertan and Sylvain Marveaux are all nearing a return to first-team duty.
Southampton lost Matt Targett (foot/ankle) to injury in their 1-0 loss at leaders Leicester City last time out, but manager Ronald Koeman could get Shane Long back from a knee injury for the visit of Newcastle. The Republic of Ireland striker netted the equaliser in a 2-2 draw between these teams at St James' Park in August.
The Saints are seventh and could yet snatch a Europa League qualification berth, with West Ham four points ahead in sixth.
Key Opta stats:
- Southampton are unbeaten in five Premier League games against Newcastle (W3 D2 L0).
- Newcastle have conceded two or more goals in six of their last seven Premier League games against Southampton.
- Southampton have only lost once in the Premier League at home to the Magpies (W11 D3 L1).
- Saints have won more Premier League games (14) and scored more goals against Newcastle (52) than versus any other Premier League opponent.
- Newcastle have lost their last eight away league games - their longest such run since a run of nine between May and October 1977.