'Very positive' Lascelles-Ritchie clash shows Newcastle care - Benitez

Jamaal Lascelles has been involved in reported rows with Rafael Benitez and Matt Ritchie, but the Newcastle boss is glad his captain cares.

Newcastle United captain Jamaal Lascelles   -  Getty Images

Rafael Benitez says a dressing-room dispute between Jamaal Lascelles and Matt Ritchie is "very positive" as it shows his Newcastle United players care.

Lascelles and Ritchie reportedly clashed at the Newcastle training ground last week amid a disagreement over the captain's role in Benitez's unpopular defensive tactics in the home match against Chelsea.

The two players, who both missed a midweek defeat to Nottingham Forest through injury, were pictured together in training on Thursday and their manager is happy that the pair continue to show passion for the club.

"As a manager, you want professionals that care, that try to compete and to win," he told a news conference on Friday.

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"In all my life as a player and as a coach, every year you have two or three situations in the dressing room during a game or during a training session where something happens between players. Why? Because they want to win.

"They care. You want competitive professionals and we have competitive professionals. I think it is very positive."

Ritchie, like key midfielder Jonjo Shelvey, will miss Saturday's trip to Manchester City, although Lascelles is available again.

And Benitez is not afraid to set up in a perceived negative manner again at the Etihad, believing Newcastle must be realistic in their approach.

"We are ambitious but we are realistic and we have experience," he said. "What we have to achieve is to stay in the Premier League.

"How? Getting results. Where? We will see. How? Playing nice football, if we can. If we cannot, we have to manage. It does not mean we have to play this way every time."

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