Interviewed before Newcastle’s game at Nottingham Forest, Alan Shearer says tonight is a ‘decent’ opportunity for the Magpies to get on track.

Whilst the legendary number 9 thinks Newcastle deserved to get beat by Blackburn, he felt they ‘played well’ on Tuesday and just didn’t take their chances, with the penalties particularly woeful.

Not surprisingly, Alan Shearer still believes Rafa Benitez is doing an ‘excellent job’ and the biggest negative he sees is that Brighton ‘are a little closer than he (Rafa) would want’.

Newcastle could be overtaken if losing tonight and Brighton win tomorrow at Cardiff, whilst third placed Reading could close to only three points from NUFC if beating Fulham at Craven Cottage.

Shearer accepts that it was a gamble to make so many changes for the Blackburn match but says you can’t have it all ways, as he is so relieved that at last Newcastle have once again got a manager who is trying to win cup games.

Alan Shearer speaking to Coral:

“I’m still confident. Their (Newcastle’s) main objective still has to be getting back into the Premier League.

I was at the Newcastle v Blackburn game at St James Park last Saturday and they were pretty poor. Blackburn were the better team and deserved to win.

“Rafa changed the team around that won so impressively at Leeds the week beforehand and that backfired, but then again I thought at least we have got one manager who is taking cup competition seriously, which hasn’t always been the case here in the past few years.

They then go to Hull on Tuesday and played well, creating chances and didn’t take them. And then they got the goal to go 1-0 up in extra-time and then it all sort of backfired after that.

“If you don’t take chances, then you don’t win the game, and the penalties they were pretty poor.

“It’s back to the league and back to Nottingham Forest, and that’s a big game now because they’ve been beaten twice in a row. It’s important they get back to winning ways.

I think he (Rafa Benitez) has done an excellent job. I think it was a tough start the first two games.

“Brighton are a little bit closer than he’d want.

“The game at Nottingham Forest is a decent chance to get back to winning ways. It always has been and is their priority to get back to the Premier League.”