Mbemba wants to be proud of Newcastle again

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Chancel Mbemba is determined to help Newcastle United return to the Premier League and to be as proud of the club as he once was.

With fellow promotion hopefuls Reading and Huddersfield Town both losing on Saturday, Rafael Benitez's side can end their exile from the top flight with a win against Preston North End on Monday.

The North-East heavyweights currently have 85 points from 43 outings in the second tier, having stuttered in recent weeks, taking just one point from their last three matches. Their struggles have seen them fall seven points off league leaders Brighton and Hove Albion, and Mbemba is taking nothing for granted ahead of Monday's showdown.

"It's important for me, because when I came here we were a Premier League team, and I was proud of that. If we get back up, which is our goal, then I'll be even more proud," the Congolese defender told the club's matchday programme [as per Newcastle's official website].

"I see it as something I want to be involved in," he added. "All I can do is be there in training and give everything I have.

"I want to bring something a little extra to the team, but it's down to the manager to make the choice who plays in these games.

"All I can say is that I'm always here for the team, I always have been," Mbemba continued. "I want to help the team go up. If we do that, and achieve our goal, I'll be proud."

While Newcastle will be desperate to arrest their poor form and secure promotion on Monday, their return to the top tier appears inevitable.

Indeed, even if they fall short against Preston, if Wolverhampton Wanderers secure a positive result against Huddersfield on Tuesday, the St. James' Park heavyweights would be back in the top flight.

"We're going into battle in these three matches, and I want to fight to the end," Mbemba continued. "It's all down to mental strength."

The 22-year-old defender has struggled to assert himself under Benitez this season, making just 10 appearances, with the coach preferring a central-defensive duo of Jamaal Lascelles and Ciaran Clark.

He joined Newcastle from Anderlecht in 2015 during the reign of Steve McClaren, but was unable to help his new side avoid relegation in his first campaign in England.

Despite his struggles this season, Mbemba has vowed to hit the ground running if given the opportunity by Benitez.

"It's not about thinking about whether I can bring something else (to the team). It's a duty -- it's an obligation of mine.

"I work hard, I give everything, and when I go out there, it's not about thinking about doing something, it's about the action of doing something.

"I see it as an obligation, a duty, to give more."