Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez sat down with the media today in his pre-match press conference ahead of hosting Everton on Saturday.
United will be looking for an impressive five home wins on the bounce by beating the Toffees at St James’ Park.
This run included crucial victories over Cardiff, Huddersfield and Burnley as well as the scalp of league leaders Manchester City.
Another three points on Saturday will see the Magpies move just three points behind their opponents who are currently in the top half and potentially nine clear of the relegation zone.
Sean Longstaff has been fantastic in this recent run forming a formidable partnership with Isaac Hayden.
However, the 21-year old has suffered a knee injury which could see the midfielder miss the rest of the season.
Longstaff’s injury dominated Benitez’s press conference which other topics included the West Ham defeat, the Everton fixture and the impressive home form.
Here’s what the gaffer had to say…
On Sean Longstaff's injury
Given Longstaff’s superb breakthrough, the knee injury is made even worse with the academy graduate an immediate fan favourite.
Benitez spoke about their disappointment but also about how Longstaff is remaining positive.
“When you have an injury it’s always bad news. For a young player it’s worse.
“But talking with him he’s mentally strong, he knows he needs to start working to get fit as soon as possible. He is really positive & we are disappointed, but he is fine.”
On Longstaff's replacement
The manager now has a decision on who to replace Longstaff with Mohamed Diame, Ki Sung-Yueng and Jonjo Shelvey all battling it out.
All three have had to sit out through injury recently but this is the perfect opportunity for one of them to get back in the team.
“We have four midfielders so we have to make a decision.
“It is bad news for Longstaff, but it could be good news for somebody else.”
On the club's home form
The Magpies have been fantastic at St James’ Park and now have the chance to make it five straight wins against Everton.
Benitez revealed that he believes the atmosphere and Geordie passion is helping them.
“At the beginning we played top sides, but now we have gained confidence we didn’t have before.
“The team is playing well, the fans are supporting the players & the atmosphere has been positive. The passion is helping us.”
On West Ham defeat
United suffered a setback last weekend after a disappointing 2-0 defeat at the London Stadium.
The manager spoke about this performance and the current mood of the players as a result.
“I was probably the most disappointed after the West Ham game because of the way we conceded the goals.
“The mood of the players is fine. If you make mistakes, you have to analyse why, but we still need to have confidence.”
On Everton game
Newcastle will be looking to get back to winning ways when they host an Everton side who got an impressive point in the Merseyside derby last weekend.
Benitez spoke about the threat Marco Silva’s side can pose and the importance of the game.
“I was trying to avoid over-confidence in the group before the West Ham game but sometimes you can’t. We won’t make the same mistake.
“Everton is another final for us. We did well at Goodison Park, we played well, but they good players & it will be a tough, tough game.”
On his time at the club
Benitez was asked about his three years at the club and his happiness with the job.
“I am happy. The first few months we did not do as well as we wanted.
“But then we promoted at the first attempt was good, we enjoyed it, then to finish 10th was a great achievement. Hopefully it is the same this year.”