Rafa Benitez

By Dominic Scurr

Newly-appointed Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez is "100 per cent focused" ahead of Monday's trip to Barclays Premier League leaders Leicester City (8pm kick-off).

Benitez was confirmed as Steve McClaren's replacement on Friday afternoon and got down to business straight away, calling the Magpies' players in to train on their day off ahead of their difficult game at the King Power Stadium.

And the new United boss feels it's important to spend as much time as possible with his squad as they currently occupy the Premier League relegation places with ten games remaining.

"At the first moment, we wanted to train," said Benitez. "We don't have much time (before Leicester) and credit to the players to come in on their day off and train like they did.

"You could see they wanted to train - it was a great atmosphere.

"We only have three sessions before the first game so it's going to be difficult against the team at the top of the table. We've got a good staff here who are giving us all of the information that we need to prepare so hopefully we can do it.

"From what I've seen I know we have a very good group of players so we need to give them confidence and from them, I will expect 100 per cent in every game.

"The players want to impress the new manager and they have the ability to do so. For now we have to be calm, but not too calm, and approach the games one at a time.

"Leicester is up next so all of our concentration is on this game."

With the Foxes chasing the Premier League title, Benítez, like many this season, was keen to praise the work manager Claudio Ranieri has done at the club.

"I know Ranieri well and he's doing a great job at Leicester," the former Real Madrid manager continued.

"I think it's great for the Premier League to have a team like Leicester at the top of the table. It shows that if you do things the right way, you can win anything.

"They are fantastic and after Monday's game, I wish them to win (the Premier League).

"I will be there (in the dugout). I like to be on the pitch with my players and in the dressing room.

"I like to try to motivate them and give them instructions. From now I am 100 per cent focused and ready."