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Newcastle: Benitez praises for players; Yedlin injury; Chelsea interested in Lascelles

Newcastle continued their good form to beat Preston for the second time in a week, this time in the league. They were somewhat fortunate as the home side played extremely well and had Newcastle under the cosh from minute one.

It was a completely different team to the one that showed up at St James’ Park, but Newcastle dug in and managed to take the three points. In his post-match interview, Benitez praised the character of his team as they absorbed heavy pressure and showed their quality on the break.

“I am really pleased with the team because we are doing well away.

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“The players showed character and in the whole game we did well defending.”

It wasn’t a dominant performance from the league leaders and several players didn’t reach the level expected from them. However, they managed to pick up the win and that is the mark of champions. Benitez has completely transformed Newcastle’s outlook away from home and they are now able to close games out. They have conceded just three goals on the road this season, while they are also the league’s top scorers. Newcastle know if they can keep things tight at the back, they have the quality in attack to win games.

DeAndre Yedlin was forced off on Saturday with a head wound after having a coin thrown at him from the crowd. It was disappointing to see this happen in the Championship and serves as a reminder that there are some questionable characters at matches every weekend. The American left the match with his head bandaged up and had to be replaced in the closing stages. There is a week until the next fixture, but Yedlin will be a doubt until the extent of his injury is fully known.

The former Tottenham player did react brilliantly on Twitter as seen above, showing that he possesses a good sense of humour, despite the injury that he suffered. The American has been one of the unsung heroes of Newcastle’s recent form and is beginning to establish himself as the first choice right back at the club. He is facing competition from Vurnon Anita and Jesus Gamez, which will be good for him at this stage of his career. Yedlin is still relatively inexperienced and has already developed a lot under the tutelage of Rafa Benitez. The injury could temporarily stall his progress, but the future looks bright for the American.

In a surprising development, Chelsea have been linked with a move for Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles after a period of scouting the centre back. The Blues are looking for an English centre back to add competition to the squad, while adhering to the rules on homegrown players. The Metro report that an £18 million bid is possible and it will be interesting to see how Newcastle react if a move is made in January.

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On the one hand, he has a lot of potential and has developed into a real leader in the dressing room, which is why he was awarded the captaincy during the summer. The rumoured fee of £18 million is likely to be too low for Newcastle to sell as they recognise Lascelles’ ability to grow into an international calibre defender.

Benitez has also stated that Newcastle will no longer be a stepping stone and he won’t want to lose a key player this early into his time in charge of the club. There is a different feel to the club at the moment and the players are committed to the cause. Lascelles may not even be interested in a move away as he is the captain of the huge club that is heading in the right direction. There may well be interest from Chelsea, but it will by no means be an easy deal to do.

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