AYOZE PEREZ admits he has had to “suffer” to adapt to his new role in the Newcastle United team – but the Spaniard thinks the sacrifice has been well worth it.

Perez scored Newcastle United’s first-half winner as they claimed a 1-0 victory at Leicester City on Friday night, with the result taking them to the 38-point mark and all-but-guaranteeing their Premier League survival.

The headed goal was Perez’s eighth of the season in all competitions, but while the forward has retained his goalscoring touch, he has had to adapt his game markedly under Rafael Benitez.

The Newcastle boss demands that his strikers are the first line of defence, and Perez put in a tremendous shift against Leicester, hassling and harrying the opposition centre-halves to prevent the Foxes from being able to play out from the back.

Miguel Almiron was asked to carry out a similar role, and while such an approach might not come especially naturally to either player, they are happy to be sacrificing personal glory for the good of the team.

Perez said: “I'm not going to lie to you, it's been very tough for players such as myself and Miguel, the players we are as footballers.

“You have to adapt yourself to what the manager wants. We have had to suffer and stick together and stick to the plan.

“At the end we still have quality up front to create chances and that's our job. You have to suffer like we did here.”

Perez thinks Newcastle’s win at Leicester has secured their Premier League status for next season, and regards his side’s performance at the King Power Stadium as their best of the campaign.

Leicester went into Friday’s game on the back of a four-game winning run, but Brendan Rodgers’ side were outplayed by their opponents from the outset, with Newcastle defending resolutely and posing a series of problems on the counter-attack.

Perez said: “Some people have said it’s the result of the season, and that’s definitely how I feel. That’s what we all feel in the dressing room as well.

“We played really good and credit to the team and the fans and the city – they deserve that we are staying in the Premier League for another season.”

Newcastle’s final four matches pit them against Southampton, Brighton, Liverpool and Fulham, and while the pressure has reduced significantly as a result of Friday’s win, Perez is hoping there will be no let up in the remaining games.

He said: “We should have enough to be safe, but we still have four games left to go and other teams have to play each other.

“We have a tough schedule, but if we play the way we did (on Friday), hopefully we can keep climbing.”