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Spirits high ahead of Anfield visit - Benítez

Written by Rory Mitchinson

Rafa Benítez wants his Newcastle United side to take heart from their recent displays when they take on Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday.

The Magpies saw off another Premier League heavyweight, Manchester United, three weeks ago, and very nearly secured back to back victories against AFC Bournemouth last Saturday.

A Dwight Gayle brace put United into a commanding position at Dean Court, only for the Cherries to rally late on and snatch a share of the spoils in a 2-2 draw.

Still, Benítez feels his troops can feel encouraged by their performances of late – the need for positivity obvious as they prepare to take on a Reds side unbeaten in the Premier League at Anfield all season.

“I think the team were doing well (against Bournemouth). And watching the game on the video, it was a pity because we had so many chances to score the third goal and finish the game, but we didn’t do it. What we have to do is learn from that – we were watching what we did well, what we could improve in attack and what we have to improve in defence and to be sure that we manage this type of game better when we are winning 2-0,” the Magpies’ boss said.

“We know that when we played Liverpool here, they had possession but the pace to play on the counter attack. It is not like we can control the game by passing the ball, because as soon as they regain, they are really good. You saw against Porto (in the Champions League), the way they were playing on the counter attack. But then when they have the ball, the way they pass the ball, the pace and the ability they have, it is so difficult that you have to have this confidence coming from the game against Manchester United and the first half against Bournemouth.”

Benítez also provided an update on the fitness of midfielder Jonjo Shelvey, who suffered a knee injury against the Cherries.

“Jonjo has a knock with his knee and is not available. We will have to check how he is doing,” the Spaniard said. “We are waiting for the results of the scan. At the moment, we do not know how serious it is. Obviously, he wants to play and he wants to train, but the doctor says we have to check exactly what he has.”

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