Newcastle United briefing: Rafa Benitez on Kenedy's future, Matt Ritchie earns Scotland recall

Kenedy and Rafa Benitez
Kenedy and Rafa Benitez

Kenedy was the star of the show against Southampton – but will be back at Newcastle United next season?

Kenedy netted two goals in Saturday's 3-0 win over Southampton.

Kenedy

Kenedy

The result lifted the relegation-threatened club up to 13th in the Premier League ahead of a 21-day break between fixtures.

READ MORE: Rafa Benitez reacts to Jonjo Shelvey's superb comeback for Newcastle

Kenedy joined Newcastle on loan in January, but there was no provision in the deal to make the move permanent in the summer in the event of the club staying up.

And United manager Benitez – who will take his players to Spain for a training camp and a friendly later this week – was asked about the 22-year-old's longer-term future after the game.

Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez

Meanwhile, tonight's Premier League 2 Division Two game against leaders Blackburn Rovers at Leyland has been postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.

Here's your daily briefing:

Enjoy

Benitez says Newcastle fans must "enjoy" Kenedy while he's at the club.

The winger scored after just 63 seconds after chesting down a lofted ball from Jonjo Shelvey, and the Brazilian added another in the 29th minute.

Matt Ritchie put the game beyond Southampton with a second-half striker.

Asked about Kenedy's future, Benitez said: “I have no idea if there’s a chance we can keep him after the end of the season.

“I think, at the moment, we have to make sure we enjoy him while he’s here.”

Keep calm

Benitez has long spoken about the need to stay calm.

And the 57-year-old is determined that his players keep their heads while others lose theirs in a fraught relegation battle.

Southampton manager Mauricio Pellegrino – who played for Benitez at Valencia and Liverpool and also served on his staff at Anfield – is fighting to save his job.

“You have to win games, and to lose a game in the manner they did here ... he knows he will be under even more pressure,” said Benitez. “But he’s professional and he has a lot of experience.

“My point has always been, the way to stay up is to remain calm until the end.

“We’re confident in the system we play and in each other.

“The team has to be consistent and strong enough to approach every game thinking we can win three points. That’s it – not worrying about the last result all the time.”

Confident

Martin Dubravka, signed on loan from Sparta Prague, has only had five saves to make in his last two Premier League games.

And the goalkeeper has praised Newcastle's defenders for keeping his "stress" levels down.

“They’ve played very well in every game that I’ve been here,” said the 29-year-old.

“They’re playing with a lot of confidence at the moment – you can see that. In the last 10 minutes of the game, they were keeping the ball, passing it from one to the other, and, as a goalkeeper, it’s great when you see your defenders like that.

“They don’t show any stress, and that’s important.

“Sometimes, you’re playing in front of defenders who come under pressure and they don’t always deal with it well. That can make it very stressful for you, but that’s not the case here.

“Our defenders have a lot of confidence, and I’m so happy that they’re in front of me.

“They’ve definitely made it easier for me to come in. They take care of the balls that are coming into the box.”

Best feeling

Ritchie has spoken about United's win over Southampton, his goal – and his celebration.

The winger kicked the corner flag over after putting United 3-0 up.

Ritchie was today recalled to the Scotland squad by new manager Alex McLeish for this month's friendlies against Costa Rica and Hungary.

And finally...

Aleksandar Mitrovic can't stop scoring for loan club Fulham.

The striker made it seven goals from five games with both goals in the Championship team's 2-1 win over Preston North End at Deepdale.

Fourth-placed Fulham are now unbeaten in 15 games.

Benitez last week stood by his decision to let Mitrovic leave the club on loan.