By Miles Chambers
Davide Santon believes that Newcastle United could thrive against a Manchester United side who are without Wayne Rooney.
The Magpies enjoyed a stellar November, which saw them record four wins out of four - including victories over Chelsea and Tottenham - but they were brought crashing down to earth by a 3-0 defeat at Swansea on Wednesday.
The 22-year-old thinks that the absence of Rooney could be a god send for Alan Pardew's men and suggested that avoiding relegation remains their main concern, rather than finishing above the Red Devils.
"The one thing we have to do is we have to try to get 40 points as soon as possible as we have to make sure we are safe," he told Goal at a promotional event for the Next Generation of EA SPORTS FIFA 14.
"I think we are in good shape at the moment, we have 23 points, but we have to keep going. Even if against Manchester United we get a bad result then we don't have to put ourselves down.
"Man Utd are still a big, big team. At the moment we're on top of them but just by one point - it will be a massive game because if we win the game we go four points above them.
"Fortunately [Wayne] Rooney's suspended, so that's good for us. [Robin] Van Persie at the moment is not having the greatest season like last season, but I think that he's always a dangerous striker - when he has the chance he will score."
Loic Remy has shone while on loan from QPR, scoring eight goals in the league, and Santon is thrilled with how the France international has equipped himself on Tyneside.
"I think Loic Remy has been one of the best players for us this season, he's been really good," Santon continued. "He's only on loan from QPR, but he always gives 100 per cent and hopefully he's going to score on Saturday again."
Italy were drawn against England, Uruguay and Costa Rica in the World Cup 2014 draw on Friday and Santon - who has not been involved in recent Azzurri squads - hopes that he can propel himself back into Cesare Prandelli's plans.
"I hope I can get there, but it depends on my performance and what I do on the pitch," he added. "Of course, having a great season with Newcastle will help make the Italy squad.
"But even if it's not a great season then it will depend on my performance and what the coach in Italy expects of me.
"So that's the point - I just have to do as much as I can do and always try to get better and better and hopefully he will call me in the future."