Devin Whitfield insists a fully fit Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles roster is focused on the bigger picture as the battle for key court time intensifies.

The men in black have endured months of serious injury and illness as they bid to stay in contention for silverware at home and abroad.

But Whitfield was one of four frontline stars who returned to action in January — bolstering a squad in great shape for the season run-in.

Will Neighbour was one of the players who has recently returned from injury in the last couple of months alongside Whitfield. (Photos: Gary Forster)

And the US guard admits there aren’t enough minutes to go around as players hungry for action await head coach Marc Steutel’s call.

“Everybody wants to play and that’s a positive,” said Whitfield. “We all want more minutes.

“But at the same time we’re buying into our roles and doing our jobs. We’re professional basketball players and we understand the situation.

“When all the guys are fit it’s just a case of being ready to make your mark when your name is called.

“I’m like everyone else. I’m ready to take my opportunity when it comes and I know I need to take advantage of the situation.”

Whitfield marks himself a ‘solid seven’ when referring to his overall match fitness following a lengthy spell on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.

But the British Basketball League rookie reckons he can do some serious damage at the defensive end — starting with Friday’s Championship clash against Manchester Giants.

“Right now my defensive energy is what can really make a difference to this team,” he added.

“We’re such an exciting and explosive team offensively that scoring points on any given night is no problem.

“So I look at what else I can bring to the table.

“I take great pride in the defensive side of my game and all season coach has made it clear that’s the foundation for this team.

“Between now and May we’re going to put points on most teams with the offensive power we have.

“But if we want to win games then I feel we need to lock in on defence.”

On paper Newcastle look more than capable of rolling over the inconsistent Giants at the Vertu Motors Arena this weekend.

But Whitfield has seen enough of a talented Manchester roster already this season to take nothing for granted against Tajh Green’s former club.

“They’ve got size, they like to shoot the basketball and they can hang around in games,” he added.

“We know their strengths. From our perspective we have to take pride in our defence and put up a wall on Friday. That’s our mindset.”

The Eagles face a punishing schedule of eight games in just 23 days starting with Manchester’s visit to Tyneside.

Last time out against Giants our Eagles cruised to a 85-106 away victory. (Photos: Manchester Giants)

But Steutel gave his roster a clean bill of health heading into today’s practice session and believes sensible game management will ensure his players successfully navigate one of the toughest periods of the season so far.

“I’m looking at how we get through March in the best shape possible,” said the GB playcaller. “That means looking beyond Manchester and even past the Gladiators on Sunday in terms of how I manage our minutes.”

Tickets for Friday’s game against Manchester Giants can be found at the Box Office.