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Monday, April 22

Premier League

Benitez gives vote of confidence to Dubravka and Kenedy

PA | 2mo
The pair excelled after arriving on Tyneside in January last year.

Rafael Benitez is confident last season's heroes Martin Dubravka and Kenedy can shine in a second fight for Premier League survival.

Keeper Dubravka and midfielder Kenedy arrived at St James' Park in January last year and played key roles in the club's surge into 10th place by the end of the campaign.

However, Dubravka, who completed a permanent switch from Sparta Prague during the summer, allowed Son Heung-min's shot through him as Tottenham snatched victory at Wembley last weekend.

As for Kenedy, back at St James' on a season-long loan deal, he has been a shadow of the player witnessed during his first spell.

Nevertheless, Benitez remains confident both men will contribute over the remaining 13 games, starting at Wolves on Monday evening.

Asked if he has had to sit down with Dubravka, who has been largely excellent during his time on Tyneside to date, Benitez said: "No. I was talking with him, but I don't need to sit down with him and talk too much about that.

"He's a keeper and, like a defender, they know if they make a mistake, everybody will talk about that.

"But he's okay. He's a good professional, he's focused, he's training really well and I trust him 100 per cent."

Dubravka was also caught in no man's land by Pedro's lob as the Magpies lost 2-1 at Chelsea last month, but asked if he is under any pressure, Benitez's response was unequivocal as he said: "No."

Winger Kenedy, who thrilled the Toon Army with his fleet-footed displays during the second half of last season, has struggled to reproduce that form this time around with events off the pitch playing their part.

However, Benitez has been happy with his efforts in training and is convinced he will return to his best.

He said: "Everybody could see his potential, so this year, he has to reach his level again and he's working trying to do that. We will see if we can give him his chance.

"Each year is different. At the beginning, he was taking some time to settle down here again – they had another baby – so it was taking some time and now he has to start again.

"He has the potential, we have seen that, so it is not someone telling you. We have seen here how good he is, and he has to go back to his level."



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1Liverpool35277179205988
2Manchester CityMan City34282487226586
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs342211164352967
4Arsenal34206868432566
5Chelsea34206857362166
6Manchester UnitedMan Utd34197863481564
7Everton35147145044649
8Watford34147134949049
9Leicester CityLeicester35146154847148
10Wolverhampton WanderersWolves34139124142-148
11West Ham UnitedWest Ham35127164454-1043
12Crystal Palace35126174348-542
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle35118163544-941
14Bournemouth35125184962-1341
15Burnley34116174260-1839
16Southampton3499164057-1736
17Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton3497183253-2134
18Cardiff CityCardiff3594223065-3531
RFulham3565243376-4323
RHuddersfield TownHuddersfield3535272069-4914
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1Liverpool35277179205988
2Manchester CityMan City34282487226586
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs342211164352967
4Arsenal34206868432566
5Chelsea34206857362166
6Manchester UnitedMan Utd34197863481564
7Everton35147145044649
8Watford34147134949049
9Leicester CityLeicester35146154847148
10Wolverhampton WanderersWolves34139124142-148
11West Ham UnitedWest Ham35127164454-1043
12Crystal Palace35126174348-542
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle35118163544-941
14Bournemouth35125184962-1341
15Burnley34116174260-1839
16Southampton3499164057-1736
17Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton3497183253-2134
18Cardiff CityCardiff3594223065-3531
RFulham3565243376-4323
RHuddersfield TownHuddersfield3535272069-4914
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