Perez hails Benitez influence with striker confident Newcastle are now safe

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Ayoze Perez believes Newcastle are now safe from relegation, but doubts that would be the case if Rafael Benitez was not in charge.

The forward’s eighth goal of the season earned them a 1-0 win at Leicester on Friday to move the Magpies onto 38 points.

Newcastle have four games left and have to play Southampton, Brighton and Fulham – all teams below them – along with Liverpool.

The Magpies are not mathematically safe from the drop but Perez is sure they have survived.

“It’s fair enough to say we’re a Premier League team again next season, it was a great effort from the lads and a great three points,” he said.

“We’re still very professional and know we can get even better and carry on the same way. We have four to go and we have the ambition to keep climbing the table.

“It should be a great win for the team, we fought really hard against a good side in a tough place. But we came here and got the three points.”

Perez’s 32nd-minute header won the game with Newcastle claiming only their third away win of the season.

Afterwards boss Benitez, whose contract runs out at the end of the season, hinted he is ready to stay now safety is virtually assured.

And Perez feels without the former Liverpool manager in charge the Magpies may have gone down.

“The team has achieved great things but maybe with another manager we would have struggled even more,” he said. “That’s what happened in my second season here, we were relegated with a great team.

“You have to suffer and work hard otherwise you are going to be even lower in the Premier League and we would have been fighting relegation.

“We have to stick to the plan, do what the manager wants because he has been in football for many years and he knows what he’s talking about.”

Perez also added to the calls for his fellow Spaniard Benitez to stay, but knows it is out of the players’ control.

He said: “It’s not in our hands. That will need to get sorted and we need to focus on football and finishing in a better position than we did last season.

“Obviously winning makes everything easier but it’s still something the manager and the club have to sort out.

“The wish of everyone at the club is for Rafa to stay.”

Leicester’s four-match winning run ended with the defeat to Newcastle, hurting their chase for seventh spot, and boss Brendan Rodgers insisted it will take time for him to implement his plan at the club.

“It’s just time, it’s historic in this type of game where we’ve lost 1-0 and teams have camped in,” he said.

“It’s about working on the training field. With the players we have, we’ll work with them to open up the idea of where we can be better in that situation.

“In the second half we had a couple of chances and much better pressure in the game but it wasn’t quite enough.”



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