NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - JANUARY 05: Rafael Benitez, Manager of Newcastle United looks on prior to the FA Cup Third Round match between Newcastle United and Blackburn Rovers at St. James Park on January 5, 2019 in Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez says that having non-Lionel Messi like players means that he’s had to rotate a lot recently to give the team a physical edge

Following a run of just one win in their last six Premier League games, Newcastle find themselves down in 15th-place in the standings in their second season back in the English top-flight.

This has led to even more pressure going Benitez’s way with critics hitting out against his management after Newcastle’s 4-0 defeat at Liverpool on Boxing Day.

Matters failed to improve for the Spaniard on Saturday when Newcastle were held to a 1-1 draw at home to second division side Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup third round.

For the game, Benitez made eight changes to the line-up that had lost 2-0 to Manchester United three days beforehand.

Benitez amazed by Schar’s brilliant solo goal

Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez says he was surprised Fabian Schar's solo goal in their 3-0 home win against Cardiff City on Saturday. Benitez praised Schar...

But the 58-year-old defended his approach by explaining how fatigue means none of his players would be able to perform at their best during this congested run of fixtures.

“If you had Lionel Messi – OK, he would have to be there no matter what because he can make the difference,” Benitez told the Chronicle.

“But, if you don’t have players like Messi or players of a similar level, you need players who can give you something physically in a third game in a row in a short period of time.”

The Magpies will next travel to Stamford Bridge to take on Benitez’s old club Chelsea on Saturday in the Premier League.