Benitez warning to Newcastle players ahead of Villa trip

Date published: Friday 6th May 2016 4:48

Rafael Benitez: Looking for squad improvements

Rafael Benitez has warned his Newcastle United players there is no room for complacency in their Premier League survival battle.

The Magpies hauled themselves out of the relegation zone as a result of last weekend’s 1-0 win over Crystal Palace, but with both Sunderland and Norwich below them having a game in hand, they head for already relegated Aston Villa on Saturday knowing there is no margin for error.

Benitez said: “It’s important to get this message: no complacency, concentrate. We have seen the last games of Aston Villa and they did well against Watford, they did really well.

“We play against Spurs in the last game, but the next one is the most important one because win this and we approach it with the fans behind us and it will be easier to keep everyone on their toes and motivated.

“For this game, we need to be sure that we are focused, and we can’t lose our concentration.”

Newcastle will run out at Villa Park, where they were relegated in 2009, on the back of a four-game unbeaten run to face a side which has lost each of its last 11 fixtures.

However, given what is at stake, they could be forgiven for being nervous as they attempt to win on the road for the first time since December.

Benitez said: “I like a little bit of tension because then you can perform better – but not too much. You can’t go there and play with anxiety. You have to play your game.

“They will play their game. They are a good team in a bad position and they have lost confidence, but they still have some good players and the work-rate is there so for us, the main thing is to be sure that we play at our level.

“We have to approach the game with the right mentality and cannot go there and think it will be an easy game. They know – we have been talking about that. We will encourage them to approach the game like a final.”

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