RAFAEL BENITEZ has reassured supporters that he is happy on Tyneside and focused on leading Newcastle United to success despite the possibility of working nearer to his family home.

Ronald Koeman’s sacking led to Benitez being installed as one of the front-runners for the Everton job, along with the man who he will come up against on Monday night … Burnley’s Sean Dyche.

Toffees chief Farhad Moshiri had reportedly made Benitez one of his top targets earlier this month when he was considering letting Koeman go if results didn’t improve.

And now that the Dutchman has lost his job the search is on for his successor, with Benitez’s track record rightly sufficient enough for him to be considered at Goodison Park.

The fact he still lives on Merseyside, having settled there during his successful reign as Liverpool boss when he led them to Champions League glory in 2005, could also have played a part in his thinking.

But Benitez, speaking yesterday ahead of Monday’s trip to Turf Moor, is only thinking about continuing to lift Newcastle into even brighter times after a promising start to life back in the Premier League.

He said: “I read in the press and heard people talking, but I am happy here. I am concentrating on this, I don’t like to talk about rumours.

“The reality, obviously, is that my family is in Liverpool, but my past was Liverpool (Football Club). Everton is a great club. I’m not saying I’m interested, I’m saying I’m happy here and want to concentrate on Newcastle and try to do my best here.”

While Benitez has seen the odds go out on the chances of him joining Everton, Dyche is right in the mix. He is now the second favourite behind caretaker boss David Unsworth after the excellent job he has done at Burnley.

Benitez is a big fan too. He said: “He's doing a great job. Obviously they are doing well in the Premier League and to be there a couple of years means you have the experience that you need to know exactly what is going on.

“We were talking about last year when we were in the Championship, 'Oh, Rafa has no experience in the Championship ...', and it's true that now they have this experience in the Premier League, it means they have an advantage.

“He is doing well. Can he go to another team and do well? I think so, he has proved that he can do it.”

Newcastle will head to Burnley on Monday with everyone except for Paul Dummett (hamstring) available and Benitez, sitting just a point and a place above the Clarets, knows that is a massive boost to his squad.

He said: “We have good news because still we have Dummett [missing] and that's it. The rest of the players are available and that is a problem for me because I have to decide who will be in the squad, who will be in the team and then you will say, 'Oh why this player, why not the other one?'

“It's fine to be seventh, but I was telling some players if we want to be more ambitious – and when I say 'more ambitious', I don't say, 'We have to be in the top four' or 'We have to be in Europe' or whatever, it's just to approach every game with the feeling that we can improve a little bit.

“If we go and we try to learn something or try to work a little bit harder in the training sessions and we can be a little bit better for every game, you never know what can happen. If we have points now, it's because we want more points in the future.”

Benitez, meanwhile, will be excited to watch England’s Under-17s take on his homeland, Spain, in the World Cup final this afternoon.

The two will go head-to-head in Kolkatta as Steve Cooper’s side look to replicate the Under-20s triumph in the summer – and Benitez thinks there is a lot to be excited about over here.

He said: “I know that Spain have a good team. They have been there for a while. Now England have 17s, 20s, even 21s, they are doing well. You can see that English players are growing and improving.

‘You have the facilities, you always have had them. Even at Real Madrid we could only use the grass one day a week. But you were not competing for many reasons. Now you are competing and hopefully you can stay at this level - and play Spain in all of the finals.

“It’s harder for English players to play because there is so much money in the Premier League and you are attracting many foreign players.

“In Spain, many teams don’t have that much money and they play young players. And, because they have talent, they end up playing more minutes. But you have quality here and are physically able to compete and contest finals.”