Newcastle United’s promotion bid will go to wire, believes Rafa Benitez

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez.

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez.

Rafa Benitez says Newcastle United’s Championship promotion bid will go to the wire.

A six-game winning running lifted the club to the top of the league, three points ahead of Brighton going into this afternoon’s home game against Cardiff City.

Rival managers Mick McCarthy and Paul Heckingbottom have backed United to go up as champions.

However, Newcastle manager Benitez is not getting carried away with a third of the season gone and doesn’t think anything will be decided until the last few weeks of the campaign.

Asked about recent comments about United’s squad and promotion chances, Benitez said: “I agree that we’re doing well, but in April we will have seven games. In May, one game.

“So April and May means eight games and 24 points.

“We have to keep our feet on the floor and have to keep working hard and approach every game thinking it’s the most important game. That’s it, nothing else.

“We can’t make this mistake thinking we’re better than everyone. We have to be sure that the team, staff, fans – everyone – is supporting the team until the end of the season if we want to succeed together.

“My staff will continue working hard. It’s not enough having one striker doing well. I want to have the other striker available.

“It doesn’t matter that you have the international break. I want the other players fit now, so you have 15 days to work with them.

“Everybody has to keep pushing hard. At the end of the season, you can enjoy. We have to be sure we enjoy after the games.”

“You can win three or four more games and still you will not be in the Premier League. You have to be sure everybody understands that.

“You have to play the games to win. After is when you can enjoy.”

United won promotion to the Premier League in early April the last time the club was in the Championship.

Newcastle, then managed by Chris Hughton, found out they had won promotion because of results elsewhere before they took to the field against Sheffield United at St James’s Park on April 5 2010.