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Rafa Benitez confirms friendly in Spain and fitness updates on Slimani and Shelvey for Southampton

12 months ago
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On Friday afternoon, Rafa Benitez has taken his latest press conference.

The Newcastle boss talking ahead of a sold out game at St James Park, with the Magpies taking on Southampton.

With it being fifth bottom against fourth bottom and the clubs only one and two points respectively above the drop zone, it is as big as any match Newcastle have faced so far this season.

Rafa Benitez revealed that Huddersfield was the oped for target for Islam Slimani to make his very belated debut, the three week gap after Southampton hopefully giving him the chance to be fully fit two months after arriving on loan.

As for Jonjo Shelvey, he has trained this week but Rafa says he will wait until tomorrow before deciding whether he can be included in his matchday squad for Southampton.

Rumours of an away trip ‘to the sun’ have been confirmed as true now.

The United boss saying he is taking the squad to Spain for four days, with one of the main aims to ‘make sure we have a competitive game’ whilst there.

Rafa Benitez also made clear ‘No parties, Just to train.’

Rafa Benitez:

“Every game is important for us.

“This (against Southampton) is the most important because it’s the next one.

“Every game is a final now.

“I think 40 points will be enough.

“I’m not keen to go to Spain to enjoy the sun, I have been there all my life…but we will go for four days to Spain. Not too long.

“No parties. Just to train, to make sure we have a competitive game, then come back.

“I’m disappointed, I would like to be higher (in the table).

“We have a good team with a lack of experience. We deserved to win some games if we’d managed them differently in the last 10-15 minutes.

“When you play against a top side, the difference is massive. Everything has to be perfect.

“Against other teams, you can make mistakes and still win.”

Rafa on releasing some Under-23 players:

“You have to take responsibility, do what you have to do. In football, with lads, with young people, it’s always difficult.

“You cannot wait to make decisions, you have to do it – whether a player will be good enough to make the first team.

“You have good relationships with players so the bad thing is to say to them that they have to go.

“My message is always clear – fans being fantastic for the team. For the players, just be sure that we give the fans something to support. If you take your chances, everything is different.”

Rafa on Mauricio Pellegrino:

“We have a good relationship. He knows me really well, I know him really well. It will be difficult to do something that the other one is not expecting.”

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