Benitez confirms new deal talks

Rafael Benitez hinted after watching his Newcastle United side win 1-0 at Leicester City on Friday that he is set to extend his stay on Tyneside.

Ayoze Perez scored the only goal of the match in the first half with a header from Matt Ritchie's excellent cross.

The victory means Newcastle are 10 points clear of the bottom three although Benitez insists his team are not yet safe from relegation.

The former Liverpool and Chelsea manager, who is out of contract at the end of the season, said after the King Power Stadium clash: "We have been talking about it behind closed doors but we didn't want to talk about it in public because we wanted to keep the players focused on the games.

"Now we are closer it may be easier but there is still the same situation so we have to be sure we do the right things.

"We're not safe yet. I think we are closer but we have to see what happens. We have to be careful.

"For me, 38 points was the mark that you could be safe but Cardiff have won some games so we will see. We are closer and we are confident that could be enough."

Meanwhile, Foxes boss Brendan Rodgers was not too despondent, despite seeing his side's four-match winning run come to an end.

He said: "We found it difficult to break them down but the players gave everything."

Newcastle are 13/10 to beat Southampton next Saturday and 13/8 to keep a clean sheet against Saints.

Benitez seeks new talent

Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez says that he is on the lookout for new players to push his side further up the Premier League table.

Newcastle travel to Leicester on Friday night with their position in the top flight still not secure.

They lost at home to Crystal Palace last weekend and go to the King Power Stadium with a seven-point gap between themselves and third bottom Cardiff City.

A win at Leicester could well be enough to guarantee their survival but whatever their status next season, questions remain over Benitez's own future as manager and his freedom to sign quality players to bolster the squad.

At a press conference ahead of the trip to Leicester, Benitez would not comment on his own future but, amid speculation that he will only be allowed to sign younger players in the future, he stressed the aim was to recruit quality.

Looking back on his time in charge of Napoli he said: "The president Aurelio De Laurentiis had ambition and he wanted to improve. He wanted to go to Europe and be there every year.

"They have guaranteed in the last four years to be in Europe – either in the Europa League or the Champions League.

"That means when you have the potential you can do that. You can see the potential here. That is what you are looking for."

Newcastle are 9/2 to win on Friday night and move further away from the bottom three while Leicester are 8/11 with the draw 14/5.

Benitez admitted to the press conference that his side needed points to be sure of avoiding relegation but said he was confident that they would have their future assured before their game against Fulham on the final day of the season.

Newcastle have been hit by the news that Florian Lejeune will miss the rest of the campaign after injuring his knee against Crystal Palace but Benitez said the rest of the squad were available with Mo Diame fit again.

Newcastle are 50/1 to be relegated at the end of the season while they are priced at 150/1 to finish in the top half of the Premier League table.

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Foxes Vardy fears allayed

Jamie Vardy will be fit for Friday's Premier League game against Newcastle United after recovering from a minor groin issue, Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers confirmed.

The Foxes frontman netted a brace against Huddersfield at the weekend in a 4-1 win before going off with a minor groin problem.

The Magpies visit the King Power Stadium on Friday and Rodgers, who is seeking five wins on the trot after losing his first match as Leicester manager to Watford, has confirmed the striker isn't a worry.

"He's absolutely fine. He felt a slight niggle in his groin towards the end of the game and rather than risk it, we took him off," Rodgers said on Wednesday.

"He's recovered well in the early stages this week and now he's back as sharp as he usually is."

England international Harry Maguire is set to return to the line-up having missed the Terriers clash for the birth of his first child.

"He looks very happy. Having a child eventually it makes you a better person," Rodgers told reporters.

"He obviously didn't train a lot last week, we gave him the week to make sure Fern and the baby were safe, but he's come, looks good and focused."

Leicester's upturn in form under Rodgers' steer has increased their hopes of qualifying for European football next season. They are 8/11 to defeat Newcastle on Friday but Rodgers won't be taking the visiting side lightly, especially with Rafael Benitez at the helm.

"Rafa is a top-class manager who organises his team exceptionally well," said Rodgers. "They play in a 5-4-1 structure when they haven't got the ball, so patience is going to be important, but with speed and creativity where we can.

"They don't give away many goals, so we know we're going to have to be patient and show quality throughout the game."

Newcastle are 9/2 to win Friday's clash, with the draw priced at 14/5.

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Rodgers keen to keep Tielemans

Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers is interested in making on-loan midfielder Youri Tielemans' move to the Foxes permanent at the end of this season.

The 21-year-old Belgian arrived at the King Power Stadium from Monaco in January on a deal until the end of the season and has adapted well to life in the Premier League.

Rodgers says "there will be discussions between the clubs" about a permanent transfer and has described Tielemans as a "wonderful talent".

Manchester United have been linked with a move for the former Anderlecht player, but Tielemans insists he would be happy to extend his stay with the Foxes.

"I don't know what is going to happen this summer," he said. "But I feel really good here. We are now in April and we will see over the next months.

"At Leicester, I can be part of something great. They will have a new training ground, the stadium will be much better than it is now with more fans coming over."

Tielemans has also praised Rodgers, saying of the former Liverpool and Celtic boss: "He is a really open-minded manager; you can talk to him, whatever question you may have, you can ask him.

"And that's really positive for us because a lot of players were confused about what was going on [under the previous manager Claude Puel].

"Everything is clear now. He wants to play offensive and attacking."

Leicester can be backed at 8/11 to beat rock-bottom Huddersfield Town on Saturday while they are 5/4 to keep a clean sheet against the Terriers.

Rodgers cool over Maguire talk

Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers has played down speculation suggesting that central defender Harry Maguire could leave the club at the end of the season.

The 26-year-old England international has been linked with interest from Manchester United for some time and such suggestions have grown louder in recent days.

However, Rodgers is focused on getting the most he can on the first few months of his Foxes tenure and not on what might happen come the summer.

Ahead of a Saturday Premier League visit from Bournemouth, Rodgers told his pre-match press briefing: "At this moment in time, all the players are happy and working well. But knowing how the game works, clubs always lose players.

"Harry is very much a Leicester City player, a fantastic player who signed a new contract last year. There is nothing to add to that."

Meanwhile, Rodgers is also hopeful that midfielder Mark Albrighton might be able to feature before the season is done, as he is making good progress in his recovery from a serious hamstring injury.

"I think he will be available at some point," Rodgers added. "He's worked very, very hard in his time out and he's out on to the pitch now doing his rehabilitation with the guys, so that's great news for him.

"He's worked tirelessly at trying to get himself back fit, we're hopeful that before the end of the season he'll get some game time."

City are available at 4/5 to defeat Bournemouth at the King Power Stadium on Saturday, with the hosts 9/1 to win 2-0 and 7/4 to keep a clean sheet.

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Morgan makes bright future claim

Captain Wes Morgan is is adamant Laicester City can look forward to a "very bright future" after he signed a one-year contract extension.

The 35-year-old central defender, who has made 292 outing for the Foxes, was an ever-present in the side's shock Premier League title success in 2015-16 and remains a big part of the squad at The King Power Stadium.

Morgan has made 19 appearances so far this term and scored the winning goal in Saturday's 2-1 win at Burnley.

The former Nottingham Forest stopper was due to fall out of contract this summer, but he has now agreed a 12-month extension to keep him on board until June 2020.

And, with Brendan Rodgers recently taking over from Claude Puel in the managerial hotseat, Morgan feels confident that further success is on the horizon.

"I can see a very, very bright future for Leicester City," said Morgan on the club's website.

"This means a lot to me. We've been through so many ups and downs together as a football club, and I've been right at the heart of it from the very beginning, so to extend my time here means very much to me and I'm very happy."

Leicester, who currently sit 10th in the Premier League and are 8/15 to to secure a top half finish, are next in action on 30th March when they host Bournemouth.

The Foxes are 5/6 to win, while the Cherries are priced at 16/5 and the draw is 13/5.

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Dyche says red card a hindrance

Burnley manager Sean Dyche says that his side's reaction to Leicester going down to ten men contributed to their defeat.

The Clarets lost 2-1 to Leicester at Turf Moor despite the visitors playing most of the match a man down after Harry Maguire's early dismissal for a foul on Johann Berg Gudmundsson.

James Maddison gave the Foxes the lead from a free-kick but Burnley equalised through Dwight McNeil and looked the more likely to take all three points having the extra man advantage.

However Brendan Rodgers was left celebrating his first away win as new Leicester boss after substitute Wes Morgan scored the winner in the last minute.

The win kept Leicester in the top half of the Premier League but the table looks far less attractive for Burnley who are just a place and two points clear of the relegation zone after their fourth defeat in a row.

Afterwards Dyche admitted that his side had failed to make their extra man count.

He said: "First half we didn't get to grips with it really. They went to 10 men and I think it was so early it kind of shocked us and we didn't get to grips with it.

"Second half we adjusted it and we kept the ball better without really breaking them open. But it is difficult. Teams bank in with a 4-4-1 as they often do and they look for a counter.

"They didn't really counter many times and in the end they win it on a soft set-piece from our point of view."

The Clarets have two weeks off due to the international break and Dyche says that it has come at a good time for the squad.

"The clarity has to come," Dyche added. "[The international break] gives the chance for the players to clear their minds."

Burnley return to action on 30th March when they play Wolves at home.

They are 23/10 for a welcome three points with Wolves 5/4 and the draw 11/5.

Burnley are 8/1 to win the game 1-0.

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Rodgers hails Dyche work

Brendan Rodgers is a fan of 'quality' manager Sean Dyche ahead of a meeting between their sides this weekend.

Rodgers is back in the Premier League with Leicester after a spell in Scotland and he's an admirer of Dyche and Burnley as a club.

Having steered Celtic through a couple of summers of European qualifiers, Rodgers wasn't surprised that Burnley faltered early this season, having fallen at the final hurdle in their quest to reach the Europa League knockout stages.

Dyche steadied the ship, though Burnley still find themselves 17th and just two points clear of the relegation zone with eight games remaining.

"I think Sean's done an outstanding job," said Rodgers. "Great credit to the club as well, because when they got relegated a few years back they stuck with him.

"Last year they had really good success and qualified for European football. In my experiences of going through a qualification phase, it can be very difficult, because you've got to come back in the middle of June.

"Then if you don't qualify for Europe, it can start your season on a real downer. That's probably what happened, but I think Sean has shown the quality of his management."

Burnley are 19/10 to beat Leicester on Saturday afternoon, with the Foxes 11/8 and the draw 12/5.

Rodgers' first game as Leicester boss ended in a late defeat away at former club Watford, though his side were 3-1 winners over Fulham on his King Power Stadium bow last weekend.

Leicester, eight points better off than Burnley and sitting in 10th place, are 9/1 to win 2-1 at Turf Moor.

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Vardy pleased with new style

Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy believes he can thrive under Brendan Rodgers and is much happier with the team's high-press style of play.

The 32-year-old former Fleetwood Town forward scored two late goals in Saturday's 3-1 victory against relegation-haunted Fulham to bring his tally for the club up to 101.

Vardy has scored five times in his last five appearances for the Foxes after struggling during Claude Puel's spell in charge of the club.

He said: "We had a proper full week of the new manager's training and I think that showed with what we put in against Fulham.

"He wants it at a high-tempo with a quick press, trying to win the ball back as quickly as possible and, if you win it high up, you're going to get lots of chances.

"It has definitely benefited me but we all know there is a lot more hard work to come and that starts when we get back on the training field. We're looking forward to it."

Saturday's victory lifted Leicester up to 10th in the Premier League table and they are available at 4/6 to finish in the top half this season.

They visit Burnley on Saturday and are 15/2 to win 1-0 at Turf Moor. The Clarets, who lost 4-2 at Liverpool on Sunday, are 4/1 to be relegated this term.

Rodgers hails Vardy show

Leicester City striker Brendan Rodgers says he is happy to have Jamie Vardy at King Power Stadium after his brace against Fulham.

The Foxes secured a 3-1 win over the struggling Cottagers with Vardy finding the back of the net twice, while also setting up Monaco loanee Youri Tielemans to score his first Foxes goal.

Having made the move from Celtic to the East Midlands, Rodgers landed his first win as Leicester boss and the Northern Irishman was not short of praise for former Three Lions star Vardy.

"He is a wonderful striker and scored two very good goals," Rodgers said. "He is one of the best in this division if you get up the pitch and slide him in. He doesn't need many chances to score.

"He's a top-class striker. He's is through on goal for his 100 goals and he squares it (for Tielemans). It tells you what a team player he is.

"I'm very happy he is here. He's tactically very good and starts off the press well."

Leicester are next in action on Saturday when they make the trip to Turf Moor to face Burnley.

The Foxes are 11/8 to win, 12/5 to draw and 19/10 to lose to the Clarets.

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