Rafa Benitez has his say on Sean Longstaff's emergence at Newcastle United – and THAT Fabian Schar goal

Rafa Benitez hailed Sean Longstaff after Newcastle United's local hero opened his Premier League account.

By Miles Starforth
Tuesday, 26 February, 2019, 22:21
Sean Longstaff.

Longstaff netted in last night's 2-0 win over Burnley.

The result, United's fourth successive home victory, lifted United up to 13th in the Premier League.

Longstaff doubled Newcastle's advantage at St James's Park after Fabian Schar opened the scoring with a stunning 30-yard goal.

Benitez promoted Longstaff to his first-team squad last summer after a season on loan at Blackpool – and the 21-year-old midfielder hasn't looked back.

Longstaff was handed a chance because of injuries to Jonjo Shelvey and Mohamed Diame and Ki Sung-yueng's departure for the Asian Cup.

And the Newcastle-born player is now keeping those players out of Benitez's starting XI.

“When he trained with the first team, he was doing well and was lucky enough to make his debut sooner rather than later because of injuries," said Benitez. "But he then deserved to be there, so we decided to keep him in the team.

“He’s working hard, he’s playing well, his understanding now with Isaac Hayden is quite good.

“There are a lot of positives when you have a young local lad playing and scoring goals."

On Schar's goal, Benitez added: “In training sessions he's quite good. He has done it before, and now you know he can do it.

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“He's comfortable, and the understanding between Jamaal (Lascelles) and Florian (Lejeune) on the ball and without the ball is getting better and means we are more solid in defence."

Newcastle are seven points clear of the relegation zone ahead of Saturday's game against West Ham United at the London Stadium.

“Winning games, you have more confidence and the position becomes different," said Benitez.

“But we have to have the same idea: one game at a time, the next game is the most important.

“We are where we are now because we're focused. and we have to do exactly the same. We cannot think the job is done, no chance.

“No over-confidence. We have to keep going. We can lose games, but we have to approach games with the same mentality as (against Burnley), and the players know that this is the situation.

“In the New Year we were not thinking about how many points we could be away from the relegation zone, we just wanted to carry on doing what we know we can do.

“So we went to Spain and were training hard, then came aback and it’s been the same situation.

“I always talk about balance, to keep a clean sheet and score two goals, to be solid as a team and to attack, as a manager it is what you are looking for.

“I know my staff, and since a long time ago we finish stronger at the end of the season."