Rafa Benitez has said he is pleased with lots of things after the five-day warm weather training camp in Murcia Spain.
The lads were able to get some good practice in with the boss in what was sunny weather but still a bit cold.
There’s nothing Rafa likes better than to spend time with his players on the training pitch – he just loves it.
And it was almost the perfect time to do it as we prepare for the 12 game run-in to the season with the team only one single point above the drop zone.
And we start on Saturday afternoon with the first of three games in eight days with a home game against bottom club Huddersfield Town.
Karl Darlow – finally fit again
We simply must win that game – but it will not be easy.
Here’s how Rafa summed up the five-day training camp:
“Some players have not been playing, so it is good for them to be involved.”
“I am quite happy with a lot of things.”
“I think to have the chance to be involved is always good – every player needs to play but it is more difficult for the goalkeepers.”
“It was good for him (Darlow) to make some saves.”
“There is a good atmosphere and spirit.”
“The commitment of everyone to the end of the season will be crucial and I can see that the players are happy.”
Karl Darlow has been out injured for a while now, so it was good to see him get some playing time and he did well in that first half against CSKA Moscow on Saturday in the 1-1 draw.
Karl could win his backup goalkeeper place back from Freddie Woodman on Saturday – as we expect Martin Dubravka to continue in goal.
But we’ll have to wait and see what team Rafa names on Saturday afternoon, one hour before the 3:00 pm kickoff time.