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Eddie Howe is not even looking at the Premier League table as he attempts to ensure Newcastle pick up where they left off on their return to Premier League action.

The Magpies headed into the break for the World Cup sitting proudly – and for many, unexpectedly – in third place having lost just one game in all competitions all season and won each of their last five in the league.

They will resume at Leicester on Boxing Day determined to maintain their blistering start to the campaign, but with head coach Howe refusing to look either back or forward.

He said: “I haven’t actually looked at the league table once, genuinely I haven’t.

“That’s not to say that I’m not aware of where we are, but for me the focus is always on the next training session to make sure we give the players the best chance to play well in the next game and let everything else fall into place.”

Twelve months ago, Newcastle headed into Christmas in a very different situation, entrenched in the relegation zone after winning just one of their first 18 fixtures.

Their recovery, aided in no small part by January swoops for Kieran Trippier, Dan Burn, Bruno Guimaraes and loan signing Matt Targett, was little short of remarkable but while he admits his team has done “amazingly well” since then, Howe is not one to look back.

He said: “I tend not to reflect too much, to be honest, because it’s maybe something you do at the end of the season when you’re bringing your ideas together for what the next season will look like.

Bruno Guimaraes
Bruno Guimaraes has been a key addition for Newcastle (Steven Paston/PA)

“It has gone, no denying it, amazingly well and we’ve enjoyed what we’ve done to this point, but it feels like we’re only halfway through.”

Monday’s trip to the King Power Stadium will test the Magpies’ 12-game unbeaten run with the Foxes, who will travel to St James’ Park in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals next month, having fought back from a disappointing start to the season to win six of their last seven in all competitions.

Howe said: “They’re a top team with a top manager and that never changed, in my opinion, even though they had a difficult start to their season.

“The quality of Brendan’s [Rodgers] work always shines through in his teams and if you look at their players, not a dramatic amount has changed from the team that excelled in previous years, so we respect them immensely.”