Live updates

Newcastle boss Benitez ignoring takeover speculation

Credit: PA

Rafael Benitez has insisted he is simply getting on with his job as speculation mounts over a takeover at Newcastle.

News that PCP Capital Partners, headed by Amanda Staveley, had tabled a formal bid for the club sparked an excited frenzy on Tyneside earlier in the week, although Benitez is remaining philosophical as he awaits developments.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's Premier League clash with Watford at St James' Park, he said: "For me, I have to prepare the team to make sure we're ready. But in terms of news, whether it has been done or rejected it doesn't affect us and we're not talking about it.

"The players aren't talking about it. I was talking to three players today, but we were talking about last night's Europa League. We don't talk about that (the takeover), we concentrate on the things we can affect with the performance of the team. We can't change anything."

Fans desperate to see current owner Mike Ashley relinquish control of the club after more than a decade are hoping he is granted his wish by completing a sale before Christmas, although that is looking increasingly unlikely with PCP's initial offer having come nowhere near to meeting his requirements.

They are keeping their fingers crossed that a new regime would invest significantly in the January transfer window, although Benitez has issued a warning that spending could be limited whoever occupies the St James' hot-seat.

He said: "It still doesn't change too much, so you have to look for good players if they're available - and in January, that's difficult. The last thing you ask about is the price.

"If we have a change in ownership, we don't know if we will have money or not because the Financial Fair Play rules - they don't allow you to spend too much money.

"We're just looking for good players, better players than we already have or to fix positions we need to fix."

Advertisement

No way back for Colback - Newcastle boss Benitez

Colback has played no part for Newcastle this season. Credit: PA

Rafael Benitez has admitted there is no way back for Jack Colback at Newcastle.

The 28-year-old midfielder continues to train with the club's under-23s after being told during the summer that he had no future at St James' Park and could leave.

However, a transfer window move failed to materialise and, despite Benitez having latest signing Mikel Merino potentially missing for several weeks with a lower back problem, a man who was called into the England squad back in 2014 will not be drafted back into the senior set-up.

Asked about Colback ahead of Saturday's Premier League clash with Bournemouth at St James' Park, Benitez said: "He's training in the academy with under-23s.

"He knows what the situation is and we will continue working with the players we have available now.

"He knew from the beginning we have four or five midfielders and I didn't want to have six. We couldn't manage to move any more players out at the end of the transfer window or find teams for them, and you can't train as well with too many players around in the same position. I didn't want that.

"Without Merino, we can play Mo Diame, Jonjo Shelvey, Isaac Hayden and Henri Saivet - even Chancel Mbemba played as a midfielder at the African Cup of Nations.

For all Benitez is confident he has cover, Merino's absence against the Cherries will come as a blow with the Spain Under-21 international, having made an impressive start to his career on Tyneside.

His manager said: "Merino is at least a couple of weeks. We'll see how he's doing. He won't go with the national team. He'll have treatment and we will see.

Advertisement

Jamaal Lascelles commits to Newcastle United

Lascelles has become an important figure in Newcastle's side under Rafa Benitez Credit: PA

Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles has signed a new contract keeping him at St James' Park until 2023.

The 23-year-old defender joined the Magpies from Nottingham Forest in 2014 and has made 75 appearances for the club, scoring seven goals.

Lascelles said: "I'm over the moon. Since I came to Newcastle, I've been happy; I love the city, the football and the fans. Everything about it I enjoy so I'm happy to be tied down for the next six years here."

Lascelles had played for Newcastle for just one season when Rafael Benitez made him captain ahead of last term's Championship-winning campaign.

He has adjusted brilliantly to life in the Premier League and is among the nominees for September's player of the month.

Capped by England from under-18 to under-21 level, Lascelles' form has also seen him linked with a call-up to the senior side.

Benitez said: "As soon as I made the decision to make Jamaal the captain of Newcastle United, he rose to the challenge and he has developed as a player and a character.

"He has proven himself to be a very good leader and a good role model too. He has also improved as a player, responding well to our advice and guidance and getting better with every game.

"I would like to congratulate him on his new contract with the club, it is very well deserved."

Load more updates