Ahead of tomorrow night’s battle with relegation contenders Brighton, Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce admits he has not been “good enough” in recent months.

The Magpies are deep in trouble with nine matches remaining of the Premier League season and head to the south coast knowing victory will see them climb above the Seagulls.

Fulham’s Friday night game with Leeds turns the focus on Brighton where Newcastle are in desperate need of a lift having gone five matches without a win; forming part of a more worrying stretch of just two wins from the last 17 matches.

That stretch dating back to the home victory over West Brom on December 12 has increased the pressure on Bruce’s shoulders and he accepts things need to change – even if he will not turn his back on the club he supported as a child.

Bruce said: “That decision will always be taken out of my hands. I only want what’s best for the club. Over the last few months, in particular, I haven’t been good enough to get the results this club demands. I understand the way it is. I will do my utmost to make sure this club stays in the Premier League. I will never walkaway from the challenge.”

A win for 16th placed Brighton, on the back of beating Southampton last weekend, will increase a one-point gap they hold over the Magpies, while Bruce’s men will aim to swap places with Graham Potter’s men.

Last Friday Bruce couldn’t hide his relief and emotions after watching skipper Jamaal Lascelles level things up in the dying stages against Aston Villa at St James’ Park, when he threw a water bottle in celebration.

He said: “It means a lot for me to manage this club, the one thing I don’t want to see is us at the wrong end of the table. I was delighted for the players and everyone concerned when that went in, let’s hope I am throwing a few more water bottles around at the end of the season.”

Newcastle were sitting in a healthy position before following up that pre-Christmas win over the Baggies with an 11-match winless run that included exits in the EFL Cup and the FA Cup.

Bruce said: “We had a horrific December and January. Over the last nine games we have started to pick up points again and now with a quarter of the season to go can we finish by winning four or five.

“There is always anxiety at Newcastle, it wouldn’t be Newcastle without anxiety. We have to be positive and get the points to see off this battle ahead.

“We won a couple four or five weeks ago. But there is no disputing we had an awful ten game stretch, they came thick and fast. In the last seven or eight weeks we have improved, gone three unbeaten. We have to find a way to get the points we need.”

Newcastle are likely to have Miguel Almiron available at Brighton after his return to training, although Bruce suggested striker Callum Wilson will not be back until after the international break because of his hamstring problem.

The Newcastle boss, though, knows just how important the trip to Brighton is in trying to build some momentum after picking up points against Wolves, West Brom and Aston Villa.

He said: “Both clubs will look at it as must-win, big game. We are aware of that. We are in a fight. It is the accumulation of points that matters and we are three unbeaten but only got three points.

“We need to get to the total we need to get to (to be safe). The quicker the better. Still five or six clubs around us with a quarter of the season to go.

“We are down there because we had a bad spell at some part of the season, ours was in December-January. We had something like 17 points from the first ten or 11 games - a good start.

“We had a poor December and January but over the last seven or eight games, while beaten by Chelsea and Manchester United, we would have liked to convert a few of those draws in to wins.

“Fulham have had a good run, won back to back games at the bottom end. Brighton are down there, Burnley, Southampton, we are not alone. We have to accept we are in a relegation scrap, that’s where we are.

“What can we accumulate over that final stretch? Can we get 17 or 18 like at the start, that would be wonderful. It’s all to play for.”