Rafa Benitez is keeping his players “on their toes” at Newcastle United.
Benitez, looking to end a run of four Premier League defeats, made five changes for the club’s game against West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday night.
It’s very positive for the future. I said before that this team cares. These players care.Rafa Benitez
Newcastle fought back from two goals down at The Hawthorns to draw 2-2.
“When you play two games in a few days, it’s important to have fresh legs,” said Benitez, whose side take on champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge tomorrow.
“It means also that everybody has to be on their toes if they want to stay in the team.
“I think it’s another positive signal for the future, because everybody will say ‘I can play, so I have to carry on if I want to continue playing’.”
Benitez was heartened by the “character” shown by United against West Brom.
“It’s very positive for the future,” said Benitez. “I said before that this team cares. These players care.
“They have very good team spirit, and we showed this character and ambition. It’s quite good for the future.”
Matt Ritchie set up both Newcastle’s goals at The Hawthorns.
The winger had been struggling for form during the club’s losing run, but Benitez was not overly concerned.
“I think, with him, we have a player that will give everything every game,” said United’s manager.
“As I’ve said before, some players can play bad or well, but it’s not the main thing.
“It’s that they try and try to do well and try to improve if they make mistakes.
“Ritchie’s someone that wants to improve, and I’m happy with that.”
Ritchie has directly set up five Premier League goals so far this season.