Posted on: Sat 02 Feb 2013

Having played 11 midweek fixtures in succession, the international break takes over following our game at Newcastle United, and Rafael Benitez has been weighing up both the positives and negatives of losing players when they head off to represent their respective countries.

As a club with a host of high-profile, established names on our books, international matches invariably mean we suffer as much, if not more, than most.

'In a normal situation, if you have too many players going to play with their countries, if they play too far away it's a problem, but it's something you cannot change,' said the Chelsea manager.

'We have the Brazilians and English playing here, which is good, and others playing around the world. But you have to manage the situation, hopefully they will come back with no injuries.

'We have a lot of respect for all the national managers and we know how important it is for them, but at the same time we know how important it is for us.

'The international break is a negative because the players have to go away, but also a positive because they will change their environment, and that's something that maybe some of them need.

'They will come back with different views and maybe if they score a goal, play well and win they will be happy. If they lose, they will have an opportunity to change things here.'

After three successive draws, it's hugely important we come away from St James' Park later today with a positive result.

A repeat of last season's scoreline in the corresponding fixture - when the Blues ran out 3-0 winners - would no doubt be extremely welcome, and the manager remains confident his side possess more than enough quality to finish high in the table.

'We have to realise that the priority is to finish in the top four,' he explained. 'You can't be looking at the table every week, you must have confidence in your team, try to perform and if you win it will be easier.

'It's really important for the club with the money involved in the Champions League, at the same time you can progress in other competitions and win trophies that will be even better.

'I have confidence that we have enough quality, and with the players we have coming back we'll have enough options to win games in a row.'

Benitez also reserved a word of praise for Ashley Cole, who is set to become only the seventh player to reach 100 caps for England in the game against Brazil.

'Obviously 100 caps is an amazing number of games, so he has done something well throughout his career,' said Benitez.

'He's a great player, he's doing very well for us and hopefully he can do well for England for years to come.'