Ki Sung-yeung reveals the ambitious target Rafa Benitez has set Newcastle United
Ki Sung-yeung has revealed that the Newcastle United squad have been challenged to emulate last season’s Premier League finish.
The Magpies mathematically secured top flight survival over the Easter weekend, thanks in part to their fine 3-1 win over Southamtpon, and are now looking to push on up the top flight.
Having hit the 40-point mark, Rafa Benitez has now set his players a new challenge - to match last season’s tenth-placed finish.
Seven points and three places currently separate Newcastle United from Wolves, who currently sit tenth, but Benitez’s side could close the gap when they travel to Brighton on Saturday evening.
And Ki is backing his side to achieve another strong Premier League finish after their morale-boosting triumph over the Saints.
“I think the boys have the confidence now,” said the midfielder.
“We have another target now - to get as many points as we can in the next three games and finish as close to tenth as we can.
“Hopefully, at the next game against Brighton, we give everything again and get some more points.
“As a footballer player, you always have targets in your life.
“I think it [finishing tenth] is something we can achieve in the next three games.
“Against Brighton, they are at the bottom of the table, so we have to be stronger and come through it.”
A key part of Newcastle’s fine form of late has been the midfielder partnership of Ki and Isaac Hayden, with the duo once again impressing against Southampton.
And while Ki is backing Hayden - who was withdrawn early through injury at St James’s Park - to make a return, he will not be too panicked if their partnership is put on hold.
The midfield duo have kept the likes of Jonjo Shelvey and Mo Diame out of the first team picture in recent weeks thanks to their strong showings.
But Ki has backed the duo - plus Newcastle’s other fringe players - to shine if required during the run-in.
“It’s not a serious injury, so I think he will be fine for the next game,” he said of Hayden’s injury.
“But we still have Mo [Diame] and Jonjo [Shelvey] on the bench, so we have quality players.
“Everyone involved in the game gives everything and even the subs, we have some very good players on the bench.
“So anyone who plays any game, they will do their best.”
Ki also had praise for Newcastle’s forward players, and believes they will be full of confidence after a fine showing against Southampton.
And he feels the likes of Salomon Rondon and Ayoze Perez could be key to achieving Benitez’s end of season target.
“At the last home game against Palace, I thought we played well but we didn’t put the ball in the net,” he admitted.
“It’s difficult, but we scored goals and the players have more confidence, we had more chances and that made it easier.
“It isn’t going to happen every game, but hopefully the boys will make the season finish well and hopefully we can get more points in the next three games.”