Rafa Benitez examining loan market as he looks to strengthen Newcastle’s midfield

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez.

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez.

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Rafa Benitez is looking at the loan market ahead of next month’s transfer window, writes Miles Starforth.

Newcastle United’s manager is working through a list of potential midfield targets, including Chelsea’s Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

“We know what we need. These kind of games show us that we are right, especially when you have injuries or in this case a suspension.”

However, the Championship club, which takes on Nottingham Forest at a sold-out St James’s Park tonight, is not close to a breakthrough.

“We are working on names, but we have a lot of names out there,” said Benitez.

“You have the Press guessing, because agents are sending messages around the world. Players and clubs are doing the same.

“You can read a lot of names, but we have to keep doing things in the way we were doing before – just working behind the scenes and just seeing what happens.”

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte could be prepared to loan out Loftus-Cheek for the second half of the season.

A number of clubs are interested in the 20-year-old midfielder, who is looking to play after recovering from a number of injuries.

Benitez – who had a spell as Chelsea manager – is open to bringing in one or more players on loan if he feels they can add to his squad.

United have also been linked with a loan move for Manchester City midfielder Fabian Delph.

Asked if he would sign a player on loan, Benitez said: “Yes, I don’t have a problem if he’s a good player.”

Second-placed Newcastle missed suspended midfielder Jonjo Shelvey in their 1-0 Boxing Day defeat to Sheffield Wednesday at St James’s Park.

Asked if the game underlined the areas United need to strengthen in January, Benitez said: “We knew more or less already to be fair.

“From the beginning, after the first games, you could read what the fans, the blogs and the good newspapers were saying.

“They were saying ‘Newcastle need this, Newcastle need that’.

“We know what we need. These kind of games show us that we are right, especially when you have injuries or in this case a suspension.

“You have to be sure that you have enough people to cope with all of these things.

“It’s very clear what we need. The question is ‘do you have these players in the market?’.”

Meanwhile, Benitez believes there is now extra pressure on new Championship leaders Brighton and Hove Albion, who are two points clear at the top of the division.

“I am sure that to be at the top of the table is always a boost for you,” said Benitez.

“But the other teams will be more excited to play against top-of-the-table Brighton than just Brighton in second.

“Newcastle United have had this situation. Every game has been like a final for them.

“I was watching teams who were playing one way, then after playing us I was thinking ‘that’s another team!’. They run an extra mile, and I think Brighton will find the same situation.”