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Mbemba excited about Benitez as Newcastle manager

Defender Chancel Mbemba is relishing the opportunity to work under Rafael Benitez as he attempts to drag Newcastle out of the relegation mire.

Mbemba is excited about working with Benitez. Credit: Reuters

The Spaniard celebrated his 56th birthday on Saturday with his first victory at the helm, a 3-0 win over Swansea which rekindled the club's Barclays Premier League survival hopes.

Benitez's rejuvenated side faces a stern test of its fledgling recovery when Manchester City head for St James' Park on Tuesday evening, but Mbemba is determined to keep the ball rolling.

The 21-year-old said:

As a young player, it is absolutely fantastic to work with Rafa Benitez. He's a fantastic coach and fantastic man manager. Football is a strange game but we just need to keep working hard to make sure we grind out those results. We need to do that for the fans - they deserve that and it's what we are working hard to do.

It's the same for any game - you have to go into it believing you can win. We need to make sure we give the performance the fans want from us. They deserve it, they are always behind us and give us great motivation, so we will go out there and give 100 per cent for the shirt and the fans.

– Newcastle defender Chancel Mbemba

Newcastle need to build on Swansea win - Townsend

Andros Townsend netted against Swansea. Credit: PA

Andros Townsend has urged Newcastle to grasp the survival lifeline they have been thrown to preserve their Premier League status.

Rafael Benitez's men went into the weekend six points adrift of safety, but emerged having rekindled their hopes of pulling off a great escape after derby rivals and fellow relegation candidates Sunderland did both a favour by winning at Norwich before the Magpies secured a 3-0 home victory over Swansea.

The likelihood is still that two of the three clubs which currently occupy 17th, 18th and 19th places in the table will join relegated Aston Villa in next season's Sky Bet Championship, but victory over Manchester City - a big ask at the best of times - in their game in hand on the Canaries would lift Newcastle out of the drop zone and increase belief that they can yet rescue themselves.

It was massively important. The games have been running out and we knew that eventually we had to get three points, and we've done that now.

We've got five games left and we've got to win our home games if we want to stay in the Premier League.

I think people outside the club wrote us off after the Southampton game, but we knew that four of our last six games are at home, we knew that we had a good record at home and we knew that we were still in with a chance.

One week later, everything's changed. Norwich have slipped up, we've capitalised and now it's anyone's to grab now. Hopefully we can be the team that takes the last five games by the scruff of the neck and does enough to survive.

– Andros Townsend


Starting line-ups: Newcastle v Swansea


Benitez: Newcastle players giving all to beat drop

Rafa Benitez has a tough task on his hands. Credit: PA

Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez believes his players are giving their all ahead of the latest game in their relegation battle against Southampton.

Keeping Newcastle in the Premier League could prove difficult for Benitez after they slipped six points adrift of safety with last weekend's 3-2 defeat at Norwich, a game in which they fought back twice before succumbing to an injury-time winner, but the manager is far from giving up.

The team, I can guarantee, is giving everything in every training session and we have to stop the mental block that they have. They are a little bit blocked and we need to change this.

How? Winning would be perfect. I have said before, there are 21 points still to play for, so we have to concentrate on the next game, don't see the other games - we can't have any influence on the others - so just concentrate on getting three points in this one.

If we can, it will be easier for me, the speech will be easier. If we cannot, still we have to keep on fighting until the end.

That is very clear for me and for every player, and that is the message for the fans: we will continue fighting, we will not give up until the last minute.

– Rafa Benitez

Newcastle goalkeeper set for scan on knee injury

Rob Elliot won't be back until next season. Credit: PA

Newcastle goalkeeper Rob Elliot flew back to the north-east on Wednesday morning bracing himself for a definite verdict on his knee injury, with reports emerging that he could be out for a minimum of six months.

The 28-year-old was carried from the field on a stretcher after twisting his knee as he attempted to make a save just 14 minutes into the Republic of Ireland's 2-2 friendly draw with Slovakia at the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday evening, and manager Martin O'Neill later revealed the early indications were he had suffered "serious" ligament damage.

Elliot was taken to Dublin's Mater Hospital for a scan while the game was ongoing, but later returned to the team hotel in Castleknock.

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