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Rafa encouraged by trio's impact

Written by Rory Mitchinson

Rafa Benítez has paid tribute to those who came in and played their part during Newcastle United’s win over Watford as the Magpies’ boss prepares to call on the depth of his squad once more.

Fabian Schär, Ki Sung-yueng and Ayoze Pérez – who struck the game’s decisive goal – all came into Newcastle’s side after injuries to Jamaal Lascelles, Jonjo Shelvey and Yoshinori Muto.

Though Lascelles has returned to light training, the latter trio are all likely to be absent when AFC Bournemouth arrive at St. James’ Park on Saturday.

Last week’s victory was United’s first of the campaign – at the 12th time of asking – and Benítez acknowledged that every individual will again have to make their mark if the Magpies are to put further distance between themselves and the Premier League’s bottom three.

“Muto and Shelvey were not training. Jamaal has had a training session but I think it will be difficult for him to play tomorrow. Maybe, all three will be out,” the Spaniard said. “I think it’s important for us to be sure the other players understand what they have to do. They don’t need to play better than anyone – what they have to do is what they did last week: try to commit themselves in everything, play at the level they can play, and hopefully the team will be fine. We know Bournemouth is a very difficult team to play against, but still, we are confident that with the fans behind us, we can do it.

“I gave credit to (Schär, Ki and Pérez) after the game, and after the training sessions. I told them before that they have to keep pushing and put me in a position where I have to decide who will play. When you are not winning, and still you play more or less the same players, it means the others have to keep pushing. They did really well, and I was congratulating them, because it was crucial for us. The contribution of the three players coming from the bench – not just how they play, but their approach, commitment and intensity when we were challenging and competing – that was key for us to get the three points.”

Opponents Bournemouth sit a lofty sixth in the Premier League ahead of the clash, and were only denied a point against Manchester United last Saturday by a last-gasp Marcus Rashford goal.

“They are doing really well,” said Benítez. “I said last year when we were talking about Burnley, talking about Bournemouth – teams that have been in the Premier League two or three years – they are quite settled down. Their players know what they have to do. They add a couple of players every year – good players, key players for them – so I think they are getting stronger. And in this case, Bournemouth are one of the teams that are in a very good position in the table. They are playing well, and they are playing with confidence.”

"The contribution of the three players coming from the bench – not just how they play, but their approach, commitment and intensity when we were challenging and competing – that was key for us to get the three points."

Rafa Benítez

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