Promotion should be celebrated, if Newcastle go up, says boss Benitez

Rafa Benitez
Rafa Benitez
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Rafa Benitez says promotion SHOULD be celebrated if Newcastle United secure a return to the Premier League.

A win over Preston at St James’s Park tonight would see the Magpies secure the Championship’s second automatic promotion spot.

Newcastle’s closest rivals – Reading and Huddersfield Town – both lost at the weekend, and the Tynesiders need a maximum of three points from their remaining three fixtures to secure a return to the top flight.

The Magpies have no plans for a open-top bus parade, or any high-profile celebration, in the event of promotion.

But, asked if promotion should be celebrated, Benitez said: “I don’t know what we mean by a big celebration?

“I am sure everyone will be so pleased and so happy, because in the last five or six years, there are not many teams who have gone down and straight back up.

“We have to be pleased if we can achieve that.

“The main thing will be to enjoy. I don’t know how much, but to enjoy. Then after that plan for the future.

“You have to celebrate, but maybe you don’t need to do a parade in the city, you can celebrate though and then celebrate for the future.”

Newcastle have already beaten Preston twice this season.

Benitez’s side won 2-1 at Deepdale in the league in October. Newcastle also beat Simon Grayson’s side 6-0 at St James’s Park in an EFL Cup tie four days earlier.

Newcastle have missed the influence of central defender Ciaran Clark, who has been sidelined for more than a month with a knee problem.

Clark, however, could return against Preston.

Asked if skipper Jamaal Lascelles had missed Clark alongside him, Benitez said: “You can miss players who are doing well and then you lose them.

“We have missed Clark, because players need time to settle and adjust.

“Another thing with Clark is that he is left-footed. Play (Grant) Hanley or (Chancel) Mbemba there, they are right footed. Other managers will analyse that and they try to make sure you suffer.”