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Benitez urges Newcastle to focus on themselves rather than Premier League table

Benitez urges Newcastle to focus on themselves rather than Premier League table
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The Magpies slipped back to the brink of the relegation zone on Saturday evening.

Rafael Benitez has told Newcastle to ignore the Premier League table as they prepare for Monday night's tough trip to in-form Wolves.

The Magpies headed into the weekend sitting in 15th place in the table and two points clear of the drop zone after back-to-back league victories over Cardiff and Manchester City before last weekend's narrow defeat at Tottenham.

However, that had changed significantly by Saturday evening after wins for Cardiff and Burnley saw them drop two places and remain clear of trouble by virtue only of goal difference, although Benitez had already urged his players to concentrate only on what they could affect.

Asked about the difficulties of playing on a Monday evening, he said: "When you have this situation for a while and you know it will be like that, you have to wait.

"You cannot change anything. The only thing you can do is be sure you prepare for your game properly, and that's it.

"Your players can't affect what happens on the other pitches, so you just have to stay concentrated on your game.

"Sometimes it's positive, sometimes it's negative and because you can't change anything, it's better that you don't focus on that.

"You have to say, 'Okay, what do I have to do? Perform with my team', and that's it."

Newcastle are certain to be backed by a large and vociferous travelling support in the midlands despite the game being moved for television coverage.

The club's travelling fans have grown increasingly frustrated at the allocation of Monday night games, with the Magpies not having had one in the Premier League at St James' Park since December 2012.

Their mood had not been improved by a run of 10 successive defeats on the road until Benitez's men won 2-1 at Burnley on November 26, and the Spaniard has a great deal of sympathy for them.

He said: "Normally our fans travel more than anyone and the timing also has been really bad. I don't know if it's just coincidence, but it's a pity for our fans because when you have so many following the team, you have to consider also these things.

"But it's something that doesn't depend on us."

The travelling fans could receive a boost this time around with record signing Miguel Almiron in line to make his debut at Wolves.

Benitez was coy when asked about his team selection with Paul Dummett, Mohamed Diame, Ki Sung-yueng and Joselu all available after injury and Yoshinori Muto following his return from the Asian Cup, but Almiron is likely to make the matchday 18.

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Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez watches on during the Premier League clash with Tottenham on February 2, 2019
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