Rafa Benitez reveals why there is no time to waste for Newcastle squad in relegation battle

Rafa Benitez takes training at Newcastle United
Rafa Benitez takes training at Newcastle United
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Rafa Benitez admits the international break has been far from ideal - as he looks to “maximise” every minute with his Newcastle United squad.

The experienced Spaniard knows there is no time to waste with second-bottom Newcastle’s Premier League status hanging in the balance.

Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez

And with eight members of his first team squad away on international duty, the training pitches have been quieter since the derby draw with Sunderland.

But Benitez has been pleased with the work done by those squad players not involved with their countries ahead of Saturday’s crunch game against relegation rivals Norwich City.

“Every day is important for us because we don’t have too much time to send our ideas across,” admitted Benitez.

“This week, or these 10 days, could be ‘oh fantastic’ to work with the players, but we have seven or eight players away [on international duty] and a number of them will start.

It’s not ideal, but it’s what we have at the moment and I am quite positive because of the reaction of the players every training session.

Rafa Benitez, Newcastle United manager

“It’s not ideal, but it’s what we have at the moment and I am quite positive because of the reaction of the players every training session.

“Every day you can see that they are working hard, they are listening to you, they are trying to adapt to these things.

“We maximise the time that we have which in videos, in training sessions, in our groups, we have to do that at the moment.

“We have to keep the spirit and then maximise the time that we have.”

In Benitez’s first two games since replacing sacked Steve McClaren, Newcastle were beaten 1-0 at Leicester City before securing a point against Sunderland.

And while he was pleased with the reaction in coming from behind against Sam Allardyce’s side, he admits Newcastle ‘lack confidence’.

Benitez added: “Leicester was just three days to see the players, try to lift their spirit and then we cancelled the day off to prepare tactically a little our ideas with them.

“I think it was fine though we have some problems, but we didn’t allow them to create too much and we were still in the game.

“There was a feeling that the team was maybe stronger mentally and even tactically.

“But you cannot change things in three days.

“One week after we have the derby so more difficult, almost impossible; I could see a great reaction from the team but still I could feel from the first half that they’re a side who lack confidence.”