Date Printed: Friday 30th November 2018 3:59
The Magpies jumped into 13th place in the table after their third straight win at Burnley on Monday night, and Saturday’s match with West Ham will be the hottest in a series of fittings against their fellow strugglers.
Despite an evident shift for the better in the disposition across St James’s Park, Benitez is keen to keep his players’ feet securely on the floor.
He said: “I have been quite clear with the players that we’ve done yet — we still need to make sure we continue playing with the identical intensity and mindset and attitude.
“Every game is really significant but obviously if you are close to some teams, if it’s possible to beat them and get the three things then it becomes even more significant.
“In the moment it’s very important to to be sure our players and fans understand so everybody has to stay in the same region and continue to drive together. ”
And even though a frustratingly inconsistent effort with watched them draw Huddersfield prior to being thumped by Manchester City in the last two games, Benitez is guarding against the evident star quality at their disposal.
“They have some very good players that will make the difference,” added Benitez. “Maybe you can’t see it for 80 minutes in one minute they could alter the match, so we must make sure our players are mindful of that. ”
The Magpies’ move up the table has come at the same time as an improvement on the injury front with just defender Paul Dummett a definite absentee for the visit of the Hammers.
Dummett is back in training after a hamstring strain and won’t be risked, but the biggest issue for Benitez is whether to shuffle his pack together with the likes of captain Jamaal Lascelles eager to reunite.
“I’ve a problem to decide the squad because I’ve almost everybody accessible,” confessed Benitez. “However we’ve got too many games in December, so perhaps you want one player for one game but you need to have choices. ”
Those choices could yet swell in the January transfer window, with Benitez rumoured to be chasing striker Miguel Almiron as well as more cover in the left-back role.
“(But) everybody knows we are looking for choices (at left-back) along with the other places depend on whether you’re able to locate the right player. ”