By North-east correspondent Harry Sykes

Alan Shearer has identified Newcastle’s forthcoming matches against Crystal Palace and Aston Villa as ‘must-win’ games in the team’s bid to avoid relegation.

Shearer admitted Saturday’s trip to Anfield to face a revitalised Liverpool is a more daunting task and claimed a draw would be a good result.

The club legend is hopeful Newcastle can go into the final match of the season – at home against title challengers Tottenham – with their hopes of Premier League safety still alive.

Newcastle have taken four points from their last two encounters after holding Manchester City to a 1-1 draw on Tuesday night.

This came after they reignited their survival hopes with a 3-0 win over Swansea at the weekend.

Shearer assessed Newcastle’s final four fixtures of the season as he identified how they can escape relegation.

“Liverpool have a midweek game, I would imagine that Jurgen Klopp would change his team around against Newcastle, which might or might not benefit us,” Shearer told Radio Five Live. “The Liverpool guys that will come in will be fresh and raring to go. I’d be surprised if we got anything from Anfield.

“The Crystal Palace game is a must-have three points and the Aston Villa game is a must-win three points. We’ve got to win those games if we are to have a chance.”

Shearer has claimed Newcastle would not be fighting a relegation battle if Benitez had been appointed manager earlier in the season.

“They’ve given themselves an opportunity – three points on Saturday and a point tonight which is not a disaster. On tonight’s evidence, the players are certainly with Benitez.

“I’m sure he’ll get a tremendous reception from the Liverpool fans. All he can ask is that his players show the same belief as they have tonight and if they can nick a point, catch Liverpool on a bad day.”

Newcastle remain in 19th position in the table but they have narrowed the gap on 17th-placed Norwich to two points and they are just one adrift of Sunderland, who have a game in hand on their north-east rivals.

In other Newcastle news, Benitez has explained why he is so impressed by Moussa Sissoko, who skippered the side for a second consecutive match against City.