Benitez sets survival target and is ready to go to the wire

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Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez believes the relegation battle will go to the final day but says 36 points could be enough to stay up.

Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez believes the relegation battle will go to the final day but says 36 points could be enough to stay up.

The Magpies take on in-form Wolves at Molineux this evening with only goal difference keeping them out of the bottom three, and they are in desperate need of a positive result. Benitez appears to have resigned himself to the race for survival going all the way to the final game of the season at Fulham, although he is not convinced 40 points will be required to stay up this season.

‘Hopefully we can get a result against Wolves, Huddersfield and Burnley. Maybe Fulham, the last game, will be the most important game,’ he said.

‘Hopefully not, but you never know. For me, 36-38 points [will secure safety].’ Miguel Almiron’s arrival will certainly boost Newcastle’s chances of pulling clear of relegation and Benitez is delighted to have him on board.

Almiron has been recruited to add creativity to a side which has proved defensively resilient, but at times short of inspiration, and his invention could prove crucial over the remaining 13 games of the season with the Magpies having seen their five-point advantage over the bottom three evaporate in the last fortnight.

Benitez added: ‘He is different to the players we have and that is what we were looking for, running in between the lines and behind the defenders and scoring goals and making passes.’

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