Wednesday 12 December 2018

We won't be selling key men in January, says Benitez

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez (right) has no intention of selling Jonjo Shelvey in January
Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez (right) has no intention of selling Jonjo Shelvey in January

Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez has insisted he will not be selling anyone who can help in the fight for Premier League survival in January.

Reports have suggested West Ham are ready to test the Magpies' resolve to hang on to £12million midfielder Jonjo Shelvey amid the Spaniard's ongoing efforts to strengthen his squad.

However, while Benitez may be prepared to do business with some of his fringe players - Jack Colback is perhaps the most high-profile - he has no intention of cashing in on men he believes can aid the club's cause.

He said: "We cannot sell players that are playing because we would have to replace them for better players and, in January, we would need a lot of money to convince players to come here.

"That is almost impossible in January. We are not thinking of selling players that are playing already."

Shelvey and striker Aleksandar Mitrovic are among those players who have been linked with moves away from Tyneside this month, but there have as yet been no offers for any of them.

Benitez said: "I have heard people talking about our players, but we do not have any offers. If someone would come and could buy, then we would have extra money to go to the market.

"But we do not want to sell anyone who will add value to the team and we cannot loan players if we do not have options to replace them."

Progress on incoming signings remains painfully slow, with a loan deal for Chelsea midfielder Kenedy currently the brightest prospect, and in the meantime the manager is concentrating only on Saturday's home clash with Swansea and the task of easing the club further clear of the drop zone.

He said: "It is a team that has a new manager and is doing well. It is very difficult to create chances against them.

"It is not a team at the bottom that will come here and say, 'We are relegated' and that is it. No, it will be a massive game for them and a massive game for us."

Keeper Rob Elliot and defender Chancel Mbemba could return to the squad after recovering from thigh and knee injuries respectively, but Mitrovic is still sidelined with a back problem.

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