Rafael Benitez wants Mike Ashley at Newcastle v Leicester
Toon striker Salomon Rondon faces spell on the sidelines with injury
Last Updated: 28/09/18 4:28pm
Rafael Benitez says Mike Ashley’s presence is a plus for the Magpies after the Newcastle owner attended last weekend’s visit to Crystal Palace.
London-based Ashley's attendance at his first Newcastle game in 16 months was greeted with derision by the travelling Toon faithful as 18th-placed Newcastle's drab affair with Palace ended goalless.
Asked by Sky Sports News reporter Keith Downie if he was surprised to see Mike Ashley attend last weekend's game at Palace, Benitez said: "I was not surprised because I knew that he would go. And what I said before is what I say now - if the owner wants to be around then that is positive, so it has to be positive.
"I don't see any problem with that because it means he cares or is supporting the team. Hopefully that will [also] be the case in the next weeks or months."
Asked if new knew whether Ashley would be attending Saturday's visit of Leicester, Benitez said: "I'm not sure 100 per cent because it depends on him. If he comes it is good, fine, positive."
Benitez was also quizzed on whether or not he has spoken to Newcastle owner Ashley in the week that has followed last Saturday's draw at Palace.
"Not really, but I have my communication with him through [Newcastle managing director] Lee Charnley," the Spaniard said.
"Yesterday [Thursday] I had a conversation with Lee and we were talking about everything."
Benitez endured a frustrating summer on the transfer front after guiding Newcastle to a top-half Premier League finish last season.
Despite Ashley's insistence that Benitez could spend every penny the club generates, Newcastle ended the summer window with a net profit of more than £20m.
Salomon Rondon's loan switch was arguably Newcastle's most important move of the transfer window, but Benitez revealed the Venezuela international will not return to action until October at the earliest after sustaining a thigh injury against Palace.
Asked how serious the injury is, Benitez said: "We need to check. I think a couple of weeks, maybe. The idea is to see how he is going on after every week."