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The Toon's temporary boss wants Joe not to have to deal with relegation pressures when he returns to his managerial role...

With Newcastle United manager Joe Kinnear recuperating at home after heart bypass surgery, his assistant Chris Hughton is doing his utmost to ensure that by the time his compatriot returns to work, the Magpies will be well away from the relegation zone, with their Premier League status assured for another season.

Earlier today Kinnear confirmed that he is targeting a return to the dugout when his former club Tottenham Hotspur visit St James' Park on 18 April.

But in his absence through illness, Newcastle have struggled for results and are one of three teams on 29 points - the same number as Stoke City who are in the last of the  relegation places. Only goal difference is keeping the Toon out of the bottom three, and that is something Hughton is desperate to rectify.

On Saturday Champions League quarter-finalists and FA Cup semi-finalists Arsenal, who are targeting another top four finish this season, are Newcastle's opposition, and are expected to provide a stern test of the Magpies' qualities.

If Kinnear's recovery goes as planned, Hughton will still be in charge not only for the game against the Gunners, but also for the following home game against Chelsea and then a relegation six-pointer away to Stoke City, before making way for his boss.

And Hughton wants the pressure to be lifted by the time Kinnear returns.

He told Sky Sports, "It's vitally important. Irrespective of whether Joe is here or not, we are looking at each of these nine games and the quicker we can get some points and alleviate a bit of that pressure and also create a little bit of a gap, the better.

"If I am able to hand over to Joe in a good position, that is vitally important."

Hughton revealed,  "I speak to Joe regularly. The difficult thing for Joe is he is not here. There is a difference watching the games live and watching the games on video.

"Joe is very much aware of what his input can be, but certainly we expect that to be a lot more over the next few weeks. But the most important thing is that he is making a good recovery."

Mark Hinton, Goal.com

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