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Recap of Rafa Benitez's pre-match press conference

Rafa seemed very relaxed in today's press conference, here are a few things he touched upon today.

Mikel Merino is again missing, he is out up to two weeks with a back problem, the only other absentee is Paul Dummett but he is nearing a return. Rafa said on who would play in midfield: "Without Merino, we can play Diame, Shelvey, Hayden & Saivet. We can also play Mbemba there. Jack knows the situation."

So interesting Benitez would rather play a centre-back out of position in to midfield, however Mbemba does play there for his national side, it seems there is no way coming back for Colback at all, Rafa said: "He is training with the U23's at the Academy. He knows the situation & I only concentrate on players I actually have."

So who does Benitez opt for? The favourites are surely Hayden and Shelvey, however Mo Diame did start alongside Shelvey on Monday night, the Newcastle boss did hint however to the reason why: "Isaac Hayden had a small problem last week but he's fine for this game."

Rafa seemed content the club are sitting in 9th position in the league, proving the doubters and so called experts wrong at the Magpies strong start after ten games but he insisted the main goal this season is to be competitive and "make sure we are good enough to stay up. Then we can continue to build from that.”

Benitez also touched on Eddie Howe's struggling Bournemouth side, they're down in 19th at the moment, he believes they know how to to stay up in the Premier League, they're competitive and will come to St. James' Park and play on the counter.

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