ISAAC HAYDEN has backed misfiring Newcastle United striker Joselu to turn his goalscoring form around, but the Magpies midfielder admits missed opportunities are proving costly.

Having spurned a succession of opportunities as Newcastle claimed a 2-1 win over his former club, Stoke City, Joselu wasted a golden opening in the first half of Sunday’s 1-0 defeat at Brighton.

The striker turned neatly on the edge of the six-yard box after Ayoze Perez’s cross was deflected into his path, but scuffed a hurried shot wide of the target to ensure the scoresheet remained blank at the break.

It was a costly miss in a game of few opportunities, and Rafael Benitez must be considering a change of centre-forward for Sunday’s home game with Liverpool, with last season’s leading scorer, Dwight Gayle, waiting in the wings.

Gayle has been restricted to substitute appearances since a potential deadline-day move to Fulham fell through, but Hayden insists it is far too early to be giving up on Joselu, who joined Newcastle in a £5m summer switch from Stoke City.

“Loads of players have missed chances,” said Hayden. “I’ve missed chances in games, loads of players have missed chances. Everyone has had a miss where you’ve gone, ‘Oh you should have put that on target’, or, ‘You should have scored’.

“That’s the nature of football, and it’s just about making sure we practice in training, get back to the drawing board and work hard to start converting the opportunities.

“As long as we’re creating the chances then it’s fine, eventually we’ll score. It’s just about being patient and improving our finishing sometimes.

“The main thing for us is we’re creating the chances. If we weren't creating the chances then we've got an issue, but we've created a lot of chances and maybe we should have been a little bit more clinical against Brighton and put one or two of them away.”

With Perez also missing a decent opportunity in the first half of Sunday’s game, it always felt as though a single defensive lapse could prove costly.

That proved the case six minute after the interval, as Newcastle’s failure to adequately deal with a free-kick from Pascal Gross resulted in Dale Stephens nodding the ball back across the area for Tomer Hemed to score.

Last season, the Magpies could afford to pass up a few chances as their defensive strength meant they were always favourites to nick a close game. It is much harder to keep a clean sheet in the Premier League, and a result, misses at the other end are often more costly.

“We have to capitalise on the chances we're getting at one end because that'll take the pressure off us at the other,” said Hayden. “That will keep us getting points throughout the season.

“In games in the Championship, we could perhaps rely on clean sheets to get us points. That isn't quite the case anymore, we have to keep clean sheets and take the chances we're getting.”

Meanwhile, Matt Ritchie has been named in Gordon Strachan’s Scotland squad for next month’s vital World Cup qualifiers with Slovakia and Slovenia. Realistically, the Scots need to win both games to have any chance of sealing a play-off spot for next summer’s finals in Russia.