Rafa hints at Newcastle striker signing before transfer deadline

Ross Gibson

Rafael Benitez has refused to give up hope of landing a striker before the January transfer window deadline, after missing out on Daniel Sturridge to WBA.

The Spaniard presented the Magpies hierarchy with a list of targets at the beginning of the month, but has so far seen only loan signing Kenedy, a midfielder who can also play as a full-back or wing-back, arrive.

He will head into Wednesday night’s vital Premier League clash with Burnley at St James’ Park keeping his fingers crossed that there will be a breakthrough despite Daniel Sturridge’s decision to move to West Brom on loan instead and the club’s failure to agree a price with Feyenoord for Denmark international Nicolai Jorgensen.

Benitez said: “We have some time and we have an important game tomorrow, I will not talk about the window. I will concentrate on the game and ensure we will not lose focus on that.

“We still have time I am confident we can do something. I will not spend too much time speaking about that.

“Yes, we are working on names and we have worked for one month, longer than one month. The last month we have worked on the names we had on the list, we still have some time.”

Benitez admitted that “two or three” players are in talks with clubs over possible moves away, although he remains adamant that the likes of Jonjo Shelvey, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Mikel Merino, who has been linked with Athletic Bilbao in recent days, are unlikely be allowed to go.

Former Liverpool and Real Madrid manager Benitez has made no secret of the fact that he wants to add firepower to a squad that has not won in seven home league games and which has mustered only 22 goals in 24 games to date, a situation which needs to change rapidly.

He said: “I know that the players have to be thinking about the game, this game is a massive game.”

Benitez is likely to make changes to the side which lost 3-0 at Chelsea in the FA Cup fourth round on Sunday, and that could mean a first involvement for loan signing Kenedy.

He said: “He is an offensive player and was a good option for us. He needs to understand what we want and I think he has the quality to do well for us.”

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