Rafa Benitez says Newcastle United have respect for their first Championship visitors Huddersfield Town - and every other side in the second tier.

The Magpies are the bookies’ favourites to win the title and make an immediate return to the Premier League.

Their first match at Fulham has been brought forward to Friday, August 5 for Sky Sports coverage.

Town are due at St James’ Park on Saturday, August 13 for the first league clash between the sides since 1983-84.

Experienced Spanish boss Benitez was unable to save Newcastle from relegation after replacing Steve McClaren in March.

Now the former Liverpool, Chelsea, Napoli and Real Madrid manager is preparing for a crunch campaign.

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“I am not the kind of manager who is really worried about the fixtures and our rivals,” he said.

“My idea is that you have to play against everyone, and when you will play against them doesn’t change too much in theory.

“What we do have to do is to prepare our team in the best way possible, to make sure we are strong enough to start the season in a good way, and to carry on until the end.

“You can say that we will play against Fulham in the first game, away and live on television, but it doesn’t change too much for me.

“Will it be difficult? Yes. Do we have to respect them? Yes.

“But the main thing is how good will we be this day, and how good we have to be during the whole season.

“There are a lot of ex-Premier League teams playing in the Championship now, so the level is higher.

“I think it will be very interesting.

“There is more quality around the division, so I think that you will see better games – and it will always be exciting.”

Benitez believes Newcastle fans can play a big role.

“I think that the fans make the difference for us,” he said.

“Last year, in the time that I was here, they were amazing, and hopefully they will be the same this season.

“You see the stadium, you see everything here, the atmosphere - it has to be intimidating for our rivals, and we have to win our games at home.”

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While Town are all set for a pre-season trip to Sweden - they return on Tuesday to start work at PPG Canalside - Newcastle are back on Friday, July 1.

Benitez will take his squad to Ireland, where they will face Dublin side Bohemian.