(Reuters) - Newcastle United can take a big step towards Premier League safety with a victory in the “massive” game against Huddersfield Town this weekend, manager Rafa Benitez said on Friday.
Newcastle are 13th in the table and eight points adrift of the 40-point mark usually associated with top-flight survival and Benitez said the club could not afford to step off the gas with eight games remaining.
“If we win, it will be a big step,” Benitez told a news conference ahead of Saturday’s game. “I say 40 points is the figure, but it may be less. We have to play, we have to win and after that, we have to keep fighting.
“When you are getting close to the end, these games are even more important. For us, it’s a massive game, but also for them.”
Newcastle scored an important victory against second-placed Manchester United last month before they were held to a 2-2 draw at Bournemouth.
They responded to a 2-0 defeat at Liverpool earlier this month by beating Southampton 3-0 in their last game before the international break.
Benitez is hopeful Newcastle can build momentum going into the final part of the campaign but is wary of an “aggressive” Huddersfield side who are 15th in the league.
“We have to give the fans something to cheer about. High tempo, score an early goal... it will be interesting to see how we manage,” Benitez added.”
Islam Slimani is fit for the game and the on-loan Leicester striker could make his Newcastle debut after playing for Algeria in their international friendly against Iran earlier this week.
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar