Saturday must surely see Chancel Mbemba brought back into the team.

Rafa Benitez confirmed that DeAndre Yedlin is definitely out of the Birmingham match with a thigh injury, whilst according to the local media Ciaran Clark is also set to miss this weekend’s match.

Clark was forced off against Fulham with a knock and the problems Newcastle had when dealing with the breaks and pace of the opposition were then multiplied once the former Villa player departed.

Ciaran Clark has been easily Newcastle’s best defender and indeed best player this season overall, whilst DeAndre Yedlin has also done really well and given United an extra dimension with his pace.

In fact the two of them have been Newcastle’s best defenders and by far the quickest, maybe the two things largely going hand in hand.

It was interesting to see Rafa Benitez’ reaction to Clark having to be subbed.

Grant Hanley was the natural replacement but instead he was left on the bench, as the United boss chose to move Paul Dummett inside to play with Lascelles, whilst Jesus Gamez was brought on to play full-back.

Rafa Benitez clearly not thinking that pairing Lascelles with Hanley would be a good idea, the two totally devoid of pace and uncomfortable on the ball, the partnership doing really badly when paired together at Fulham on the opening day of the season.

Moving ahead to Saturday, the common sense move must be to bring Chancel Mbemba back into the team.

Clearly there must have been things going on behind the scenes that has totally sidelined the DR Congo international but at this crucial stage of the season with nine games left, Newcastle definitely need him on the pitch if Clark is going to be missing.

It is easy to forget that when arriving as a 20 year old from the weak Belgian league, Chancel Mbemba was easily Newcastle’s best defender last season.

After recovering from injury, the former Anderlecht player actually played in the final nine games under Rafa Benitez and was an integral part of the defence that helped United remain undefeated in the final six Premier League games.

The start of the season saw, a bit like the team overall, the Mbemba/Lascelles partnership looked a bit shaky at times and after the Wolves defeat, either could have been dropped, but Clark came in for Mbemba and not Lascelles, with the Irish international immaculate once given a proper chance.

In contrast, Mbemba has only had one Championship game (home defeat to Blackburn) since September and even struggles to get on the bench – the Reading away game the only one he has been named amongst the subs for since 2 January.

We have already seen some welcome unexpected stars this season with Daryl Murphy belatedly getting his chance, time now for Chancel Mbemba to get the same opportunity at St Andrew’s if Ciaran Clark is ruled out as expected. He is confident on the ball and above all else has that pace which the likes of Anita, Lascelles, Hanley and Dummett are lacking.

(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])

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  • TheNutJob

    Rafa is not only wrong not giving Mbemba a chance he`s also wrong in keeping players in the team when they are not producing the goods. the best example of this is Anita & Lascelles, both of them were taken to the cleaners against Fulham & in the last 6 weeks or so both have been well under par
    my opinion on Anita is that he is at his top level in the championship, my opinion on Lascelles is he won`t last a season in the premiership. both cannot sustain a good standard and are to inconsistent to make it at the top

    • Big Al 1967

      Yes he had a bad game on Saturday (as did everyone) but how has Anita been ‘below par’ over the last six weeks when he has been injured for the majority of them FFS!!

  • Andrew Kumar

    Don’t understand why this lad is being completely ignored. Remember him having abit of a dodgy game earlier in the season against wolves then there’s been no sign of him since. Must be something behind the scenes because I don’t believe he’s not good enough to aleast get a look in.

  • RunforPavel47

    Honestly I think Mbemba could play several positions either at centre half or right back. He should get his chance now if Clark is injured. Would like to see more of Gamez and hopefully he can finish the season and get us over the line. A big 3 points is needed on Saturday as Brighton could drop points away to Leeds.

    • Carlo Ancelotti

      he can also play as a defensive midfield player

      • 1957

        He looked ok in that position in the ACN

        • MichaelMaximusMoose

          yea he did i watched him

  • Carlo Ancelotti

    wouldn`t surprise me if he has a contract clause from his last club, you don`t leave one of your best players out for no reason at all, why the fools at the chron haven`t asked about Mbemba`s situation just shows what a bunch of nitwits they are

    • Leicester Mag

      The Chronic are to investigative journalism what Clouseu is to detective policing

    • Salty

      The Chronic, in fairness to them (and that isn’t very often) actually have done quite a lengthy piece on why he isn’t playing- have a look through the ‘long reads’ that they have published, actually quite interesting

    • Wor Lass

      “nitwits”? Have you been to Finishing School during your recent absence? You should have taken your kid with you – he`s still upssetting people!

  • 1957

    Clearly Mbemba isn’t in Benitez thinking, are Lascelles, Hanley (or Dummett) better…not for me. It can’t just be down to his performance against Wolves, there are players in the team in his and other positions who regularly have stinkers and keep their place including the captain.

    I like Mbemba and thought he was by far our best defender last season.

    • MichaelMaximusMoose

      Lately the Capt is having more bad games than good one`s

  • Lewis Morgan

    Has Hanley been given a ‘proper chance’? He’s a Championship defender who isn’t the quickest but is great at this level.

  • Andy Mac

    I wonder if the great man has missed a chance to play Mbemba as the 1 DM at home ? His passing out from the back would surely be an improvement on Ginger Jack ?

    • Taz

      A traffic cone wud be an improvement on colback

    • Mal

      Couldn’t agree more. Can’t understand why this hasn’t been tried as, with the odd exception, Colback has been poor and for a DM his tackling is appalling.

  • mentalman

    We have 4 central defenders, 2 whose greatest strengths are their physicality and aerial ability and 2 whose strengths are being able to play the ball.

    We are playing a combination of 1 of each, this means either clark or mbemba has to miss out, with clark being our best defender so far its quite simple why mbemba isn’t playing

    • thewildchimp

      I’d play him in the midfield instead of Colback, though…