RAFAEL BENITEZ admits he is unable to make any firm decisions over his players’ futures while his own position continues to hang in the balance.

Benitez is still waiting for the Newcastle hierarchy to formally kick-start discussions over a new contract, with his current deal due to expire at the end of June.

The uncertainty is having major repercussions in terms of his forward planning as he admits he is not in a position to offer cast-iron guarantees about anyone’s future.

Reports this week suggested Matt Ritchie had been told he would not be getting a new deal because he is due to turn 30 in September, but Benitez insists that is not the case.

Instead, he has revealed he is unable to make contractual decisions about any of his players, a scenario that is hardly helpful given that the transfer window is due to formally reopen on July 1, the day after Benitez’s contract is due to end.

The Newcastle boss said: “I have had some players talking with me (about their future), but I told them you have to talk with the club not me. All I can do is make sure they are fit and ready, and pick the team.

“My priority is to concentrate on the next game. I am not happy when I see all the stories about Ritchie, it is not true.

“My job is to prepare Ritchie for the next game. I cannot give any advice about the future, my contract is up on the 30th of June. If I do not have a contract after next month, how can I say to him, ‘I will not give you a contract?’”

Benitez submitted his wish-list to the Newcastle hierarchy at the start of the month, but is still waiting for a formal response from either Lee Charnley or Mike Ashley.

He said: “We are at the same point, no news.

“I finish my contract on the 30th of June. I am a professional. I want to do well and the first thing is to win against Southampton in the next game.

“I don’t like to see debates about my contract, players leaving or me having meetings with anyone. I have to prepare the team the best way possible for the next game.”