Ireland trip the start for Benitez’s Championship promotion push

Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez

Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez

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Rafa Benitez is desperate to take relegated Newcastle United back to the top flight – and the hard work has already started.

Benitez this week agreed to stay at the relegated club, signing a revised contract committing himself to Newcastle for the next three years.

And Benitez is finalising plans for the Tynesiders’ pre-season campaign.

Newcastle – who have reduced season-ticket prices for the Championship by 10% – will travel to Ireland for a week-long training camp before tackling a series of domestic friendlies.

Benitez could have walked away from the Magpies this summer, having had a clause in the contract he signed in March allowing him to leave in the wake of relegation.

But the Spaniard was persuaded by Newcastle’s fans, owner Mike Ashley and managing director Lee Charnley to stay on Tyneside.

Benitez is keen to realise potential of the Magpies, who have not won a major trophy in 47 years.

And there will be no shortcuts, in Benitez’s view, to success in the Championship, football’s most unforgiving division.

Asked about the “stature” of the club, Benitez said: “I could say it is massive.

“But we have to remember that we are in the Championship and I am not stupid.

“We have to start thinking about what we want to do in the Championship to make sure that we can be in the Premier League.

“I could say ‘we are this’ or ‘we are that’, but that will not change anything.

“We are where we are, and we want to be sure that next year we will be where we belong.

“But it has to be through hard work, being professionals and making the right decisions as much as we can.”

Meanwhile, Benitez will take his players to County Kildare, Ireland, in July for a pre-season training camp.

“This training camp will be all about hard work and trying to maximise the time we have together,” said Benitez.

“The venue is a great football environment with excellent facilities, and not too far to travel.

“The focus will be on fitness, making sure we all bond together and sharing ideas.”