Perez happy with striker role

Newcastle United's Ayoze Perez - Newcastle United v Preston North End

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Ayoze Perez says he is happy to play as a striker for Newcastle United if manager Rafael Benitez decides to use him in that role for Sunday’s Premier League opener at home to Tottenham Hotspur.

Dwight Gayle was the focal point for Newcastle last season, scoring 23 goals from 32 Championship appearances, but he did pick up several injuries over the course of the campaign. The 26-year-old, who joined the north east outfit from Crystal Palace last summer, is struggling for fitness ahead of Sunday’s clash at St James’ Park and it is unclear whether he will get the nod up-front or start on the bench.

Serbian Aleksandar Mitrovic has been in good form in pre-season although there are still reports claiming Benitez is willing to sell the striker if a suitable offer comes in. That could lead the Spanish tactician to deploy Perez through the middle and the latter flourished in that position on Sunday’s 2-0 friendly win over Hellas Verona, opening the scoring with a deft finish.

It remains uncertain what starting 11 Benitez will go with but 24-year-old Perez, who arrived from Tenerife in 2014, says he is more than happy to fill the gap if needed.

He told the Chronicle: “If the gaffer needs me as a striker, I’m here. I will always try my best. I always want to play and I respect his decisions. I can adapt myself to any position and feel comfortable in any of them.”

Newcastle are 5.00 outsiders to beat Spurs on Sunday, a draw is priced at 3.75 whilst the visitors are 1.67 favourites to get their title challenge off to the perfect start.

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