RAFAEL BENITEZ admits Newcastle United have to improve their decision-making in the final third if they are to avoid more results like this afternoon’s disappointing goalless draw with Brighton.

The Magpies remain within one point of the relegation zone after they were unable to break down a resolute Brighton side at St James’ Park.

Visiting goalkeeper Matt Ryan made a fine save to keep out Dwight Gayle’s glanced header, but Newcastle rarely threatened as their attacking limitations were repeatedly exposed.

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Benitez is hoping to sign a new striker in next month’s transfer window, having lodged his interest in a potential loan deal for Liverpool’s Danny Ings or Leicester’s Islam Slimani, but the Magpies manager accepts that his current crop of forwards will have to sharpen up in the final third if they are to avoid a rapid return to the Championship.

Benitez said: “We have to improve our decisions in the final third to make sure we have more chances.

“There is a bit of anxiety with these players – it is a young team that has to learn. When something is wrong, we are suffering a little bit.

“We will try and take the positives. There are not too many, but we pushed and fought until the end.

“It is always difficult when the other team are well organised, and then you cannot find the gaps and the spaces. It is a question of experience.”

Newcastle are the youngest side in the Premier League, and Benitez clearly feels a lack of top-flight knowhow is a factor in his team’s failure to win any of their last six home games.

He said: “It is not just Premier League experience - it is just experience. You need players who, under difficult circumstances, can handle the pressure.

“We will try and improve. We are disappointed that we could not get three points. We want to stay in the premier league so we have to stick together.”

Jonjo Shelvey came on as a second-half substitute, but the central midfielder has been linked with a possible January move to West Ham.

Shelvey is understood to be frustrated at his inability to hold down a place in Newcastle’s preferred starting line-up, but Benitez will not be allowing any member of his current first-team squad to leave unless he has a cast-iron replacement in place.

He said: “If we don’t bring players, it will be very difficult to lose players. Even if they are not happy, they have to keep working.”