Benitez trusts Newcastle players ahead of Spain training camp

Rafael Benitez said he trusts his Newcastle players both on and off the pitch as he prepares to take them away to Spain ahead of a crucial Premier League run-in.

The Magpies, who face fellow strugglers Southampton at St James’ Park on Saturday, will head for the sun next weekend during an enforced break which will not see them play another competitive match until Huddersfield arrive on Tyneside on March 31.

However Benitez, who will mark two years since his appointment on Sunday, is confident the four-day training camp, which will conclude with a game, will not be tarnished by the kind of behaviour which earned bottom-of-the-table West Brom unwelcome headlines last month.

The Spaniard, who as Liverpool manager found his preparations for a Champions League tie against Barcelona marred by the infamous Craig Bellamy-John Arne Riise golf club incident, said: “If we go there, it’s because we have to play a game against a competitive team.

“We will train and try to keep everyone together. The good thing is that the complex where we’ll be, it is not in the middle of the town, so they have to stay there, relax and focus on football.

“I have not had big problems with my teams – the most famous was in Portugal with Liverpool, where we had a few problems, although we then beat Barcelona.”

Asked if his players would be allowed to drink while they are away, Benitez replied: “Yes. They can drink water, no problem.”

The Magpies have nine remaining games in which to secure their top-flight status, something the Spaniard did not countenance after securing promotion at the first attempt, although he is confident progress is being made, if more slowly than he had hoped.

He said: “We are working really hard to fix things and at the same time do well. Could it be better? Yes. But when you think of what we had and where we are now, we are doing a lot of things.

“But still it could be better with a bit of help.”

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