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Benitez still awaiting answers on Newcastle future ahead of Leicester clash

Rafael Benitez says he is still waiting for answers concerning new contract talks as he prepares his Newcastle side for Friday’s Premier League trip to Leicester.

Benitez stressed there have been no developments since he called for clarity from club owner Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley prior to last week’s home defeat to Crystal Palace.

Benitez said: “It is exactly the same situation that I had before, so I am waiting and the main thing if I am asked about this is just to talk about the game, and I just try to get three points.”

With his current deal set to expire in the summer, Benitez has acknowledged there is an air of uncertainly around St James’ Park as the Magpies struggle to make certain of staying in the top flight.

They remain just seven points clear of the relegation zone and – while a win over the Foxes should prove enough to ensure survival – Benitez believes the challenge could have become more difficult than it first appeared.

“We know that we are close and we just have to keep pushing and not play with any complacency – just try to do what we did for so many months,” stressed Benitez.

“I said before that 38 points could be enough but now maybe not. We just have to try and get three points and the rest of the things depend sometimes on the results at the weekend.”

Benitez has confirmed that defender Florian Lejeune will face an operation on the knee he injured against Palace, but Mo Diame should be available again after missing the Eagles game with a muscle strain.

The Magpies boss is hopeful Lejeune’s previous record of recovery – after a similar injury to his other knee – will stand him in good stead to be fit in time for the start of next season.

“The point now is to decide when the operation will be,” said Benitez. “(Last time) in four months he was fine when normally it takes six or seven months.

“He was really unlucky that his other knee has the same injury now, so now he has to have have a good operation and start very quickly the rehabilitation, and hopefully in five months he should be fine.”

Despite the build-up of issues on and off the field, Benitez remains convinced his side can finish the season with something to spare, and bring an end to his opponents’ excellent run under Brendan Rodgers.

“I think they (Leicester) are a very good team – they have won some games in a row and they have some more confidence,” added Benitez.

“(But) we just have to approach every game with confidence and calm and we just have to believe.

“We are doing well, we are quite solid but we are just missing that final pass which is costing us three points.”