Rafa Benitez: I didn't realise I'd named an unchanged Newcastle side!

Rafa Benitez said he hadn't even realised he had named an unchanged side before he put his teamsheet in at the DW Stadium.

Thursday, 15th December 2016, 5:47 am
Updated Thursday, 15th December 2016, 10:22 am
Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez.

Newcastle United beat Wigan Athletic 2-0 last night to return to the top of the Championship.

Mohamed Diame and substitute Christian Atsu netted at the DW Stadium, where Benitez’s team was loudly backed by more than 4,000 fans.

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Benitez had named the same team that had convincingly beaten Birmingham City 4-0 at St James’s Park on Saturday.

It was the first time United’s manager had fielded an unchanged side this season, with Benitez having repeatedly rotated his squad given the physical demands of a 46-game Championship campaign.

Benitez, however, resisted the temptation to freshen up his starting XI.

“To be fair, I didn’t know (it was unchanged),” said Benitez.

“They told me before (the game).

“Normally, I think about the team before the game and that’s it.

“I don’t have any problem to change players or pick the same team.

“When you play so many games, you have time for every one.

“The rest of the players have to be ready just in case. They have to be available.”

Benitez, however, will make changes for Saturday’s game against Burton Albion.

A win at the Pirelli Stadium would ensure the club goes into the Christmas at the top of the Championship.

Newcastle lead Chris Hughton’s Brighton and Hove Albion by one point ahead of the Burton game.

Meanwhile, Benitez also paid tribute to the club’s support.

“It’s really good when you win, because you know they will go home happy,” said Benitez. “The support of the fans is massive and amazing,

“If we can keep it the same until the end of the season, then that is good news.”