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Rafa's Reward For Table-Topping Team

Written by Dan King

Rafa Benitez will give his players some time off this week - but only after getting through some more work with them at the training ground.

Some of United's players have now reported for international duty but the majority of the squad were at the Magpies' Benton base on Monday morning.

However, with his side top of the Sky Bet Championship table and without a fixture until Sunday, November 20th, Benitez has scheduled some rest days after a hectic run of fixtures in recent weeks.

The manager told nufcTV: "We will lose some players - they will go with their countries - but the other players will be here and we can keep working with them.

"After, we will give them some days off to be sure that mentally, they are fresh when they come back."

United made it eight wins in a row against Cardiff on Saturday. Christian Atsu scored after just three minutes and Yoan Gouffran doubled their advantage just before half time.

Peter Whittingham pulled one back in the second half but the Magpies gained three more important points at St. James' Park.

"It was a great start," said Benitez. "After, we had two or three chances and the same situation in the second half.

"We needed to score the third goal and finish the game; we didn't do it and then (Cardiff) were pushing but that's Championship football; throw-ins, free kicks, the ball in the box.

"The referee was allowing too much contact and that is always good for the team that is strong physically.

"We can analyse the result and the whole game and we will see that we had the control and created chances, but you have to take your chances in football or the other team will have the belief that they can score and they will be fighting until the end."

Cardiff's goal was a controversial one, as Marouane Chamakh appeared to handle the ball in the build-up, but fortunately for United it didn't prove to be too costly.

"We have seen that he moved the arm," Benitez said. "Watching the replay and the video, it seemed to be handball but you have to accept what happened and just relax now, and with the international break try to be sure that we are ready.

"It's not easy to win games, it's not easy in any division, so to have the opportunity to see the team scoring goals and winning games in a row is always, for a manager, a nice situation."

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