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Thursday 23 November 2017

'We can manage without Rafa' - says assistant

Rafael Benitez. Photo: PA
Rafael Benitez. Photo: PA

Paco de Miguel insists Newcastle will manage without Rafael Benitez if he does not make it to the dugout for tomorrow's Premier League trip to Swansea.

The 57-year-old Spaniard has three times had to abandon his efforts to get to the club's training ground this week after undergoing surgery to address an infection resulting from a hernia operation he had two years ago.

He remains at his home in the north west and is by no means certain to travel to south Wales, with the club even having a helicopter on standby to get him to the Liberty Stadium if he is well enough.

However, if he is not, his coaching staff of Moreno - full name Francisco de Miguel Moreno, or Paco for short - Mikel Antia, Antonio Perez and Simon Smith are confident they and the players can get the job done in his absence.

Asked about Benitez's chances, Moreno said: "I don't really know. Hopefully he can join us. If that doesn't happen, we are not bothered, we can manage.

"Rafa is okay. He had the operation on Monday and is recovering properly. He will be fine in a few days."

It has proved a difficult few days for Benitez, who famously likes to exercise as much control as possible on preparing his team for whatever lies ahead, and while Moreno admits he and his fellow coaches have had many telephone conversations with the manager, it has been business as usual.

He said: "It's not been difficult because we have been doing the stuff we normally do here. We are going on a daily basis."

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