Rafa Benitez brushes off suggestions of top-four Newcastle United finish

Jamaal Lascelles

The 24-year-old Nigeria worldwide joined the Etihad Stadium outfit from Austrian Wien this summer after notching 17 goals in 33 games in the Austrian Bundesliga last campaign.

But Benitez, who guided his men to a double over the runners-up on their way to promotion, insists history will count for nothing when the pair meet in the Premier League on Sunday.

Sky Sports Premier League channel is showing the game with coverage starting at 3.30pm.

"At the moment, we are working as hard as we were past year, but doing things a little bit better in some games".

"My main responsibility is to be sure that they play with the same intensity and we approach every game as if it was the most important".

"We know each other really well and it will be hard for both, I think the level of the two teams could be similar".

However, Ritchie's back in the division with Newcastle - and determined to make the most of it.

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But Benitez admits there could be little to choose between the teams despite the Magpies now sitting in fourth place with Brighton hovering just above the relegation zone.

"It's not being detrimental to anybody, but there are a group of six or seven teams that are going to be more hard to get results against", Hughton said.

And Ritchie - who set up both United's goals at St James's Park - isn't getting carried away with the club's three-game winning run. They can do well, we can do well, but sometimes it depends on the momentum.

"We've got a really good relationship", 23-year-old captain Jamaal Lascelles said of his manager in The Telegraph newspaper this week. We think we can win but we won't go there as favourites.

"We're at home and we have to try and capitalise on our home form".

"I wanted to maximise the time with them".

Rafael Benítez will no doubt see it as another winnable game as United look to establish themselves as top-half contenders. Sometimes playing well, you can not win and sometimes playing badly, you win.

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