Ayoze Perez can’t quite believe that he will shortly be celebrating the end of his third season at St James Park.

Coinciding with an eventful period of the club’s history (when is it any different!), the three season have seen: survival only on the final day of the season, relegation, then hopefully promotion this time.

Coming from the footballing backwater of Tenerife, no surprise to hear Ayoze Perez say that having made 99 appearances so far, if he plays on Saturday it ‘would be really big for me’ if he brings up his century of games ‘for this big club’.

The striker says that Newcastle United ‘gave me everything’ and the he has ‘grown as a person and as a player’.

Many Newcastle fans have expressed surprise though that Perez has failed to make more of an impression on the second tier, considering his relative successive in two years of Premier League football.

Rafa Benitez likes to play a certain way and use a certain formation, so it remains to be seen just which players, including Ayoze Perez, that Rafa sees as fitting in, if/when Newcastle return to the top tier this summer.

Ayoze Perez speaking to NUFC TV:

“It has been a good break for us, I went back home to get some sunshine and to rest a little bit. I think the team needed and it has been a long time since the last one (international break).

“We returned to training yesterday and it is good to be back and get ready for the Wigan game.

“We haven’t done good at all against teams playing for relegation, so we have to make sure that we are focused enough, ready for fighting.

“It has been a very long season, a lot of games, now we have just eight more games to reach what we are looking for.

“We just have to keep doing what we have been doing and try to win most of the games we have left.

“Unbelievable, this is my third season already, the time has gone really quick.

“If I play on Saturday it will be my 100th game for this big club, which is something that would be really big for me.

“I have grown as a person and as a player as well, so everything is positive.

“I just can say thanks to Newcastle United – they gave me everything.”