News. Benitez 'not focussing' on Championship table

31 Jan 17

Rafa Benitez says he is paying little attention to the Sky Bet Championship table ahead of Queens Park Rangers’ visit to St. James’ Park

The Magpies return to league action looking to put Saturday’s Emirates FA Cup defeat to Oxford United to one side, Benitez again likely to shuffle his pack with a number of players having been rested at the Kassam Stadium.

Newcastle currently sit second in the standings, six points clear of third-placed Reading with a game in hand on the Royals.

Benitez, however, insists that Wednesday night’s clash is his sole concern at present, the Magpies aiming to record a third consecutive victory in the Championship, having seen off both Brentford and Rotherham United in recent weeks.

“Obviously, I know where we are in the table, but my focus is on the next game. We are working really hard trying to prepare for it. It will be a difficult game for us, and we have two games this week, so – as I have said in the past – it is really, really important that we stay calm, keep working hard, have confidence and try to win every game,” he said.

“I will see the table in April, maybe, but now I think it is important just to concentrate on one game at a time.”

Opponents QPR saw a mini-resurgence halted by Burton Albion on Saturday, the Brewers becoming the first side to defeat the Hoops this calendar year.

United ran out convincing 6-0 winners in West London in September, their heaviest Championship victory of the season.

Since then, Ian Holloway has replaced Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink in the hotseat at Loftus Road, with the 53-year-old Bristolian making a trio of signings this week, including former Fulham frontman Matt Smith.

Benitez acknowledged that the Hoops’ form has improved of late, and is anticipating a different sort of encounter altogether from the two sides’ first meeting this season.

“Queens Park Rangers are doing better now. They have had some good results, and it will be a tough game – like the majority of them are in the Championship. The manager has experience, and – watching them – they change systems in some games, and they will be quite difficult to break down,” he said.

“We have been doing well for the majority of the season, and hopefully we can carry on with this form.”

With just hours of the transfer window remaining, Benitez remained tight-lipped when asked as to whether any incomings are imminent at St. James’ Park.

“We have been training this morning, and still we have some time. We are confident we can do something good for the team, but we have no news,” he said.

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