Newcastle’s Championship knowhow boosts Benitez ahead of Fulham opener

Rafa Benitez
Rafa Benitez
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Rafa Benitez feels Newcastle United are well prepared for the Championship – as they’ve got the knowledge.

The Magpies kicks off its campaign in English football’s second tier with a fixture at Fulham tonight.

Newcastle have signed eight players this summer, many with Championship experience.

And manager Benitez feels his new-look team, which now has a British core with experience of the division, is ready for the rigours of a gruelling 46-game season. “We knew the Championship is so difficult,” said Benitez.

“We needed players with experience of the Championship and of English football, so they knew about the physicality, the importance of every contact. It was important to get players with knowledge of this side of the game.”

Newcastle’s ultimate goal is promotion back to the Premier League.

But Benitez – still looking to sign “two or three” players before the transfer window closes at the end of the month – is refusing to look beyond the Fulham game.

“The aim is to just beat Fulham – and that is it,” said Benitez, who yesterday allowed Florian Thauvin to rejoin Olympique Marseille on loan.

“You will listen to this all season – it is one game at a time. It’s the only way.

“(From) my experience of winning titles, you have to keep going. Sometimes we will make mistakes and we will lose games, but you have to be strong enough to keep going.

“You cannot lose your confidence after one bad result or be over the moon after one good result. It’s about getting the right balance.”

Benitez – who has not included new signings Mohamed Diame and Ciaran Clark in his squad for tonight – is particularly looking to sign a striker to compete with Dwight Gayle and Aleksandar Mitrovic.