MO DIAME would love to be handed a contract extension at Newcastle United, as the wait goes on to see if he triggers a clause that will signal an automatic stay.

The 31-year-old midfielder is edging closer to making a specified number of appearances in his final season that will immediately lead to an extra year on his existing terms.

It is a similar situation to the one Stewart Downing is faced with at Middlesbrough, whereby he will be granted a fresh deal if he makes one more start for the Teesside club.

That agreement in his deal has prevented him from starting a game in 2019 and manager Tony Pulis has only been able to hand him substitute appearances since the turn of the year.

The Northern Echo:

Pulis has been asked not to start him for the 23rd time this season – half of the club’s league games – because Boro are reluctant to hand him the sort of terms that have made him the highest paid player at the Riverside in recent years.

It is unclear at this stage the finer details of what Diame’s contract states, although it is known he will be granted a one-year extension if he reaches a certain number of games.

The former Hull City man, who joined three years ago, is banking on staying, although it is understood he would like to have the security of a two-year deal if he is to stay.

Diame said: “My thinking is still the same. I’m happy here, but it’s not me who’s going to decide about my future.

“I just try to help the team to get the target, and afterwards we’ll see. It’s not the moment to talk about my future.

“I’m happy and settled down in Newcastle. Everything is OK. I’m focused on the target, that’s it.

“The manager needs me to give everything for this team and it’s what I will do until the end.”

Diame has started 21 matches so far in the Premier League this season and appeared once as a substitute. His last start was against Manchester United on January 2.

Since then injury has been the reason why he has been missing and that has paved the way for the emergence of Sean Longstaff in the middle, where he has paired up well with Isaac Hayden.

Diame did get introduced as a late sub at Wolves last Monday and he has been in Spain with the squad building up to this Saturday’s visit of Huddersfield to St James’ Park.

Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez values Diame’s experience and quality in the middle of midfield, and his versatility means he can play deep or higher up the field.

Given his age, Newcastle’s previous policy from within the boardroom is that they would prefer younger players who have a resale value.

However, as he was brought in for £4m a few years ago, the fact he is already at the club is likely to mean they would be happy to retain him.

Benitez would like him to stay and an early breakthrough would only help the manager’s own situation, with the Spaniard into the final five months of his contract. The Newcastle boss is seeking assurances over budgets and ambitions before committing his future.

It is likely that Diame will again be on the bench when Huddersfield head for Tyneside because of the form and understanding build up between Longstaff and Hayden.

The latter, though, did pick up a knock at Wolves but came through 45 minutes against CSKA Moscow fine.

Newcastle are two positions clear of the bottom three but are only a point clear, so facing the basement boys Huddersfield on home turf is a huge opportunity.

And Benitez, whose side have claimed seven points from the last 12, said: “It will be a massive game. All of the games for us to the end of the season will be like finals.

“The next one, against a team at the bottom, people are expecting it will be an easy game but I do not see it that way.

“Their manager says they will fight until the end. We approach the game with confidence but we must also show some respect.”