The Magpies and Brighton have set the pace at the top of the table for several months now, but having established a significant gap between themselves and the rest, they have been unable to break away with Huddersfield, Reading, Leeds and Sheffield Wednesday still hot on their heels.
Colback, who will hope to retain his place in the starting line-up for Monday night’s home clash with Aston Villa, said with a smile: “It’s getting irritating now, actually.
“Of course you have a look at the other results. They are a part of the competition, you’re going to have a look after games.
“We obviously focus on ourselves first. We know that we’ve put ourselves in a position where if we keep winning games or stay unbeaten and are consistent, then we’ll go up so we will focus on that first and foremost.”
Newcastle head into the Villa game sitting in second and five points ahead of third-placed Huddersfield, and while there is still much work to be done, Colback and his team-mates know that the situation is still very much in their hands.
He said: “The gap obviously was a bit more healthy, they have closed the gap – credit to them because they keep wining games. But we’ve got to play everyone around us. Again it shows it’s in our own hands.”
Dwight Gayle return
Benitez said: “We were winning without him and that was important. But were we missing a clinical finisher? Yes. Were we missing a player with pace and good movement? Yes.
“The others were doing a good job – [Daryl] Murphy and [Aleksandar] Mitrovic have been great – but he is a different kind of striker who gives you the opportunity to change things during the games.”