AYOZE PEREZ is confident he will be fit to face title-chasing Liverpool this weekend despite having had to hobble out of Newcastle United’s weekend draw with Brighton.

Perez scored his fourth goal in the space of two games as Rafael Benitez’s side claimed a 1-1 draw at the Amex Stadium, with Pascal Gross’ second-half equaliser easing Brighton’s relegation fears and plunging Cardiff City closer to the drop.

Perez was unable to make it to the interval after a hip injury forced him off, but is confident the problem is not too serious.

And with Liverpool due to visit St James’ Park on Saturday night as they look to keep up the pressure on Premier League leaders Manchester City, Newcastle’s in-form Spanish striker is hoping to get the green light to be involved.

“I got injured a couple of minutes before the goal,” said Perez. “I tried to carry on as long as possible, but I couldn’t even sprint. I was letting my team-mates down, so that’s not good.

“I asked for the substitution. It’s very sore at the minute, but it’s just a kick, hopefully in a couple of days, it gets better. I tried to stay on the pitch, I wanted to. I need to make sure now I’m ready, I’m fit for the next one.”

Newcastle lined up without ill captain Jamaal Lascelles and injured record signing Miguel Almiron, but despite their Premier League safety already having been guaranteed, the Magpies were in no mood to roll over despite Brighton’s desperate need for the points.

Paul Dummett’s deep cross from the left was superbly chested down by Salomon Rondon in the 18th minute, enabling Perez to expertly smash into the top right corner from close to the penalty spot.

Venezuela international Rondon was then denied a penalty by referee Mike Dean after his heels appeared to be clipped by Brighton captain Bruno.

Perez, whose goal was the only effort on target at either end in the opening 45 minutes, had earlier taken an inadvertent whack from Seagulls defender Shane Duffy and reluctantly had to be replaced by Kenedy 12 minutes before the break.

The Magpies had another spot-kick claim turned down early in the second half when Dale Stephens handled Isaac Hayden’s goal-bound effort from a Matt Ritchie corner.

Albion continued to offer little in attack, although centre-back Duffy rippled the side-netting from a Gross corner.

The hosts then claimed for a penalty six minutes later when Glenn Murray received a nudge from Ritchie following Bernardo’s cross.

Time appeared to be ticking away from Brighton before a leveller duly arrived with 75 minutes on the clock.

Bruno’s hopeful cross from the right was headed on by veteran striker Murray, allowing the onrushing Gross to beat Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka to the ball and nod home.

Murray had a golden chance to grab a dramatic winner and virtually ensure survival for Brighton, but he headed over from Anthony Knockaert’s cross in the final minute, leaving Chris Hughton’s men to wait a little longer to secure their Premier League status.

“(It’s) a step, but probably my responsibility is really not to feel too much until we know that, mathematically, we are safe,” said Hughton, who lifted the Championship title during his spell as manager of Newcastle.

“We have two games left. The cautious part of me has to think that anything can happen. Cardiff are home to (Crystal) Palace in their next game and, if they win that one, then it’s momentum going into their last game at (Manchester) United.”

Benitez has no such fears, but despite Newcastle having confirmed their safety almost a week ago, the Magpies manager remains in limbo.

His current contract is still due to expire on June 30, and he is yet to hold new talks with either Lee Charnley or Mike Ashley.

“Not really,” said Benitez, when asked whether he had any updates about his future. “Today was about the game. The day we have any news, we’ll let you know.

“Every day counts because in the end you want to do everything possible to start working. But we will see.

“This morning I saw Lee. We talk every week. I’m relaxed. It’s not depending on me. I am waiting.

“It’s very clear - everyone has his own ideas. What do we want to do in the future? That is the key.

“If we have different visions, we’ll have to find a point in between that we are happy with, if not we have to talk and try and move forward as soon as possible.”

Newcastle (3-4-2-1): Dubravka; Schar, Fernandez, Dummett; Manquillo, Hayden, Shelvey (Ki 73), Ritchie; Atsu (Muto 81), Perez (Kenedy 33); Rondon.