February 3, 2018 / 6:27 AM / in 6 months

Soccer: Newcastle can focus now window is closed, says Benitez

(Reuters) - Newcastle United can focus on their fight for Premier League survival without any more distractions after the close of the January transfer window, manager Rafa Benitez has said.

Britain Soccer Football - Wolverhampton Wanderers v Newcastle United - Sky Bet Championship - Molineux - 11/2/17 Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Ed Sykes Livepic

Newcastle sealed loan deals to bring in midfielder Kenedy from Chelsea, striker Islam Slimani from Leicester City and goalkeeper Martin Dubravka from Sparta Prague in January.

Striker Aleksandar Mitrovic and winger Rolando Aarons were among those who departed on loan and Benitez said the team had to get their priorities in order after a 1-1 draw with Burnley in midweek extended their winless run to three games.

“From now, there are no distractions, and everybody has to be sure they are ready,” Benitez told the club’s website (www.nufc.co.uk).

“The first message I gave to the players after the transfer window, after the training session on the morning, was, ‘Listen, this is the group of players that have to fight for every point until the end of the season’.”

Benitez added: “The players, the team, they have to concentrate on that, because some of them were maybe thinking, ‘I could go here, I could go there’. Now, everybody’s here and everybody has to give their best.”

Newcastle, who take on 13th-placed Crystal Palace in the league on Sunday, are a place below the London club on 24 points — level with three other teams and one point above the relegation zone.

Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by John O'Brien

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