Rafa Benitez gives Newcastle transfer update in the wake of the club’s shock defeat to Blackburn

Ciaran Clark reacts after his goal is disallowed against Blackburn
Ciaran Clark reacts after his goal is disallowed against Blackburn

Rafa Benitez admitted it won’t be easy to find the players to strengthen his Newcastle United side for a tough second half of the season.

Benitez’s side were yesterday beaten 1-0 by Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park to drop down to second in the Championship ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup tie against Birmingham City.

Already without the suspended Jonjo Shelvey for two more games, Benitez has lost Mohamed Diame, Christian Atsu and Chancel Mbemba to the African Cup of Nations.

Benitez – who is interested in taking Chelsea’s Ruben Loftus-Cheek on loan – is looking for midfield reinforcements.

Asked if the club had made any early progress in this month’s transfer window, Benitez said: “Not yet. We are trying to find the right players. January is not an easy transfer window. Hopefully, we can do something.

“They have to be players to give us some balance or be better than what we have at the moment.

“Playing like this, I think we can win games even without these players.”

Benitez, however, feels the transfer market will prove challenging given the sums of money Premier League clubs are able to spend.

“Now it is to keep working and try to find the players,” said Benitez. “It’s not easy. The market is quite strange. There have been a lot of changes. We have to try to find these players that will give us something different.”

United were beaten by a second-half goal from Blackburn’s Charlie Mulgrew, who also scored the only goal of the game in November’s meeting between the two sides at St James’s Park.

Newcastle were dominant for much of the game and had two goals disallowed while Rovers goalkeeper Jason Steele was named man of the match for a series of saves.

“I didn’t know the stats in the first half ... the chances, corners, possession were all in our favour,” said Benitez.

“It’s difficult to explain. What we have to do is keep doing the same things in the second half.

“We started the second half with two goals disallowed. We had the same idea, the same control. We lost, maybe, control of the game for five minutes.

“It’s difficult to explain however you can lose, not even draw, this game.”