It's back to club slugging for Ghana star Christian Atsu, who played almost a half for Newcastle on his return from the Afcon.

The Geordies slipped past Wolves 1-0 to go back on top of the English Championship on Saturday, marking Atsu’s first game since an exit from the semifinals in Gabon.

He came on for eventual match-winner Aleksandar Mitrovic after 46 minutes, a decision which was explained by gaffer Rafa Benitez as being a precaution to save Mitrovic from being sent-off as he had been yellow-carded.

The west African has scored three goals in his 17 club games this season. “It is a confidence that you have. In the national team I play 10 games [in a row] and they trust me. Sometimes it is difficult to come to the club side and play and get to the rhythm of the game immediately”, he told ChronicleLive.

“I need to keep working hard. I play better in the national side but I hope to change that. I don’t think I am anywhere near my best [for Newcastle] yet. I can keep improving. I haven’t played one of my best games for Newcastle yet, and I am working as hard as I can to be able to do that.The fans have shown their love for me – it is up to me to pay them back on the field.”

Benitez and his side are aiming for a return to the Premiership and so far - being atop things with 65 points - so good.