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Rafa Benitez fails with request to get Everton match called off

4 weeks ago
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Rafa Benitez and Newcastle United fans are set to have their reunion after some two and a half years apart.

The Spanish manager forced out by Mike Ashley at the end of June 2019.

Now he is at Everton, with a spell in China behind him.

Like Eddie Howe and Newcastle United, Rafa Benitez now finding himself in a relegation fight…

Premier League Table 22 December 2021

Rafa Benitez and Everton face four other clubs who are also in the bottom eight in their next four matches.

First up is Burnley away on Boxing Day (Sunday), though Rafa Benitez says he is “really surprised” that the match is still due to go ahead after claiming that Everton have just nine senior outfield players available due to positive Covid cases cases and injuries.

Rafa Benitez and Everton asking for a postponement but the Premier League knocking that idea back.

For Newcastle United fans this is of obvious interest, as it is only seven days before NUFC play at Goodison on 30 December.

The Everton boss says that he has got Calvert-Lewin back and he may have to play the full Burnley match. If that happens, it is difficult to see him starting against Newcastle.

After playing Newcastle, Rafa Benitez and his team face Brighton and then Norwich in the Premier League. Everton looking well capable of getting properly involved in the relegation scrap.

That game at Goodison could be a massive opportunity for Newcastle United and needs to be taken if at all possible.

Rafa Benitez press conference ahead of Everton game at Burnley on Boxing Day – 23 December 2021:

“We have six injuries and five players with Covid.

“I am really surprised we are playing this game.

“We have followed all the rules, we have done lateral flows every day, we do the PCRs and we have worn the masks.

“We have players in three different dressing rooms [to reduce the risk of transmission].

“But we cannot control if you go to a game, if a player is positive but has not got any symptoms, he can pass the virus to the others.

“After we played against Chelsea, we found we have five positives.

“We have nine outfield players and three keepers.

“And then we have to bring five new young players into the team, who are not even 21 years old.

“We have players who have knocks and we have to push them.

“Dominic [Calvert-Lewin] has been out for two months and maybe has to play for 90 minutes.

“It is a massive risk.

“We have to wait to see which players are available.

“It is a difficult situation. When you talk about what is going on and the number of Covid cases in the country, we will have more and more cases every day.

“I don’t know the conditions of every club. I know our situation, we have six injuries, five players with Covid and now we have to pick players who have been out for a while or young players, and we have to take a risk putting them on the pitch and possibly in different positions.

“It will not be easy and I think it is not fair.

“What teams around Burnley and around us [in the Premier League table] will think in terms of the integrity of the league, I don’t know. Clearly, in this case, it is a surprise that we have to play this game.

“Now, I have to think about if I have 11 players fit and where can I put them.”

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