By Danny Wright

Rafa Benitez has given his players two days off training following Monday’s loss to Ipswich, according to a report.

The Telegraph reports that the Magpies boss has opted to give his squad time to relax and unwind ahead of their pivotal Championship finale, rather than scold them for their lacklustre display against Mick McCarthy’s men.

Newcastle’s training ground has been almost completely deserted since the 3-1 defeat at Portman Road after what can be seen as an alternative way to save the club’s promotion bid.

With three matches left, Reading are six points behind second-placed Newcastle while Huddersfield, who have a game in hand, are seven adrift of the final automatic promotion spot.

Brighton secured their place in next seasons Premier League after the Terriers dropped points against Derby on Monday.

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Newcastle welcome Preston to St. James’ Park next Monday and, according to the Telegraph, Benitez thinks that this two-day break will lift the pressure off his squad.

The Tynesiders have looked a sure-bet to earn an instant return to the top-flight all season, but poor results recent weeks have seen them fall into the clutches of both Reading and Huddersfield.

After facing Preston, Benitez and his men face a long trip to take on Cardiff in their final away game of the campaign.

They will then return to the North-East to end the season against Barnsley.

Huddersfield have two home games remaining against Fulham and Cardiff with away days to Wolves and Birmingham sandwiched in between matches at the John Smith’s Stadium.

Reading have games against relegation-threatened trio Nottingham Forest, Wigan and Burton in their final fixtures.

In other Newcastle news, this Toon striker has been named in the Football League’s Easter team of the week.

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