LEON Best today vowed not to give up his Newcastle United career without a fight.
The striker has been linked with a move away from St James’s Park this summer.
But Best – who was lively in Friday night’s 2-0 win over Darlington – wants to stay on Tyneside.
And manager Alan Pardew included him in his squad for the club’s pre-season tour of the United States, unlike a handful of other fringe players who have also been tipped for exits.
Best netted six goals in a free-scoring spell last season, and he’s confident he can challenge new signing Demba Ba and the club’s other forwards for a place in Alan Pardew’s team.
The 24-year-old is set for a second run-out of pre-season against Sporting Kansas City tomorrow night in the first of Newcastle’s three tour games, and is determined to stake his claim over the coming weeks.
“I’ve been in this position time and time again,” Best said.
“I’ve got to look back at last season for confidence and get myself as fit as I can. I think people know I can do it in the Premier League now, and it’s about fighting for my position.
“There’s a new striker in who I already get on very well with, and I’d be delighted to play alongside him, or fight him for a place.
“Competition for places brings the best out of a team – I’ve always believed that.”
Best, signed by Chris Hughton from Coventry City in January, 2010, has also been given plenty of encouragement by United’s fans.
“When I’m out with my missus, or at the MetroCentre, the feedback I get off the fans is that they don’t want me to go – they want me to stay and that I deserve another chance,” added Best.
“It’s a matter of keeping fit and fighting for my place.”
Newcastle’s players should reap the benefits of their punishing training sessions in 40 degree heat when they return from the United States later this month.
Best said: “It’s lovely weather and beautiful facilities, so we can concentrate and work hard here.
“I’ve been a few other places, but it’s my first time in America. It’s about working hard and putting your body through a lot of stress, but when you’re doing it in a nice environment it makes it that tiny bit easier.”