We’re in a bet­ter place to de­liver


The Chronicle - - Nufc - By CRAIG JOHNS Sports writer craig.johns@trin­i­tymir­ror.com @craig_johns

CIARAN Clark says he’s con­stantly learn­ing from Rafa Ben­itez, thanks to his at­ten­tion to de­tail.

What’s more, the Ire­land de­fender in­sists that New­cas­tle United can com­fort­ably avoid rel­e­ga­tion from the Pre­mier League, hav­ing showed what they’re ca­pa­ble of in the week­end’s 3-0 vic­tory over West Ham.

Clark scored in that game, which was the Mag­pies’ first win of the sea­son.

It eased the pres­sure of a poor start to the sea­son which had seen two de­feats in the open­ing games, not helped by ten­sions off the pitch be­tween manager and owner due to lack of trans­fer ac­tiv­ity.

For now, Clark’s at­ten­tion now turns to in­ter­na­tional duty with Ire­land. Martin O’Neill’s side face two im­por­tant World Cup qual­i­fiers away at Ge­or­gia and home to Ser­bia, with the Toon cen­tre-back hop­ing to play his part in mov­ing his coun­try closer to a spot in next sum­mer’s com­pe­ti­tion.

And Clark be­lieves thanks to Ben­itez, he’s in a bet­ter place to de­liver.

“I feel I’ve im­proved un­der the manager [Benítez] and hope­fully con­tinue to,” the 27-year-old said.

“He pulls the group of de­fend­ers in, and the mid­field­ers and strik­ers or what­ever groups, and looks to see if there’s any­thing there he can im­prove. Once he’s some­thing to tell you, he’ll want to keep prac­tis­ing it un­til it’s sec­ond na­ture.”

There’ll be big pres­sure on Clark if he’s given the nod in Ire­land’s two up­com­ing games.

A lot has been made re­cently of the pres­sure on New­cas­tle play­ers at St James’ Park, with Graeme Souness once again de­scrib­ing the neg­a­tive af­fects it can have.

But Clark in­sists any pres­sure on Tyneside is noth­ing but a pos­i­tive to him and the cur­rent play­ers.

He said: “Ev­ery­one ex­pected New­cas­tle to go up last sea­son. There was a lot of pres­sure on us from that end.

“It was good pres­sure. It was dif­fer­ent from what I was used to in the past.

“The fans now want to see us im­prov­ing and kick­ing on, it is a mas­sive club that should be in the Pre­mier League and we want to stay there.

“If we keep show­ing the at­ti­tude we did at the week­end, keep that go­ing, then I am sure we will be OK.

“Go­ing off the back of last sea­son com­ing into the Pre­mier League, we want to do our best to make sure we’re in the Pre­mier League next sea­son for a start.

“Ev­ery­one would love to have a cup run, es­pe­cially for the fans, but the most im­por­tant thing is to sur­vive in the Pre­mier League.”

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