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Rafa Benitez realistic about Newcastle’s chances of doing ‘difficult’ transfer deals

NUFC 0-1 EFC 13-11-207.  Picture by FRANK REID
NUFC 0-1 EFC 13-11-207. Picture by FRANK REID

Rafa Benitez does NOT expect to do any business with Newcastle United’s relegation rivals in the transfer window.

West Ham United are odds-on favourites to sign midfielder Jonjo Shelvey.

It’s very difficult for a team in their position to do a deal with us.

Rafa Benitez

Newcastle have also been linked with a move for Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart, who is on loan at the London Stadium.

West Bromwich Albion, meanwhile, have been credited with an interest in United striker Aleksandar Mitrovic, who is ready to quit the club in search of regular first-team football.

Other deals between clubs at the foot of the Premier League have been mooted.

United have also been linked with West Ham striker Diafra Sakho.

But United manager Benitez – who is waiting to find out how much he has to spend in the window – doesn’t expect Newcastle to sign anyone from the teams close to them in the table.

Asked about speculation linking Newcastle with Hart, Benitez said: “No, we are not talking about names.

“But it’s very difficult for a team in their position to do a deal with us.”

Benitez – who is looking closely at the loan market this month – was frustrated to miss out on 36-year-old Willy Caballero in the summer.

The goalkeeper moved from Manchester City to Chelsea.

And Benitez – who was also interested in bringing Pepe Reina to St James’s Park – would like to bring in an experienced goalkeeper to the club this month to compete with Karl Darlow and Rob Elliot.

It would also allow him to loan out 20-year-old Freddie Woodman, who made his senior debut in Saturday’s 3-1 win over Luton Town.

Benitez was unable to loan out Woodman last summer as he needed three goalkeepers for the club’s Premier League campaign.

Asked about Woodman, Benitez said: “We’ll decide what’s best for him and the club.

“We have to manage both of those things. If we are going to do something with him, it will have to be this month.

“But Elliot’s injured and we’re working to try and find what we need, and after we will make a decision.”

Shelvey, meanwhile, is 8/15 with one bookmaker to join West Ham before the transfer window closes.

The 25-year-old, signed from Swansea City for £12million in January 2016, scored against Luton.

West Ham manager David Moyes is looking to strengthen his midfield this month, and Shelvey, a boyhood fan of the club, is reportedly a target.

Benitez wants to move out a small number of fringe players, notably midfielder Jack Colback, but he is under no pressure to sell any of his first-team regulars.

Colback has been training at the club’s Academy since last summer.

United have not had any firm bids for the likes of Mitrovic and Shelvey.