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In-form Newcastle must stay grounded, says Benitez

(Reuters) – Newcastle United must not get carried away by their recent run of impressive results as they prepare for Sunday’s Premier League trip to Brighton and Hove Albion, manager Rafa Benitez said on Friday.

Following three consecutive victories, Newcastle have stormed to fourth in the league standings and are only four points behind title favourites Manchester City and Manchester United.

Benitez, however, said he was more pleased by the work rate of his players in training rather than their position in the league.

“I have looked at the table… but I am not really concerned about that. My main responsibility is to be sure the team play with the same intensity,” the Spanish manager told a news conference.

“Brighton is all I’m thinking about. I said after the last game we still have plenty of room for improvement.

“We are working as hard as we did last year but we are doing certain things better in games, and that is why we can press from the front.”

Centre back Florian Lejeune is likely to be ruled out this weekend having still not fully recovered from an ankle injury sustained in the season opener against Tottenham Hotspur.

The 26-year-old Frenchman was an unused substitute during Newcastle’s 2-1 win over Stoke City last weekend.

“More or less the same situation, everybody’s fine,” said Benitez. “Lejeune’s having treatment.”

“He was unlucky with the injury, but (Ciaran) Clark and (Jamaal) Lascelles are doing well, so he has to wait, but he’s pushing and creating problems for my decisions every week.”

(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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