A strange choice but Massadio Haidara has been interviewed for tonight’s match programme v Burton.
Rafa Benitez hasn’t given him a single minute on the pitch in the Championship and has only made the bench once, when there was a rash of injuries and Shelvey’s suspension back in January, when Rotherham visited St James Park.
Achraf Lazaar is in a similar position, only making four brief sub appearances in the league totalling 36 minutes.
The Moroccan international had been used as cover on the bench but now he has even lost that to Jesus Gamez, not featuring as an unused sub in the Championship since back in February.
As for Massadio Haidara, he says he has been fit for the past three months, and is ‘just waiting for my chance’. Rafa played him at Birmingham and Oxford in the FA Cup but they were matches where it was basically a second team on show.
With Dummett playing every week and Gamez and Lazaar seemingly also between him and the first team, it looks a forlorn hope for the Frenchman to be involved again.
Haidara has looked the part at times in some games in the past but flattered to deceive, with defensive frailties and a list of injuries
His last first team league action was in the 6-2 defeat of Norwich in October 2015 as a substitute and his main claim to fame since then, was hosting what became known as ‘Yedlin’s Tea Party’, though it was actually Haidara serving the tea and cakes….
Haidara is just one of many players who you can’t see having a future at the club under Rafa Benitez but having been recruited on Premier League wages, can they find a club prepared to finance the right deal this summer?
Massadio Haidara talking to the official match programme (NUFC v Burton):
“The first thing is we have to be promoted, if I play or not.
“After, for myself, it’s about trying to play some games.
“Even if it’s only one, I would be happy because it would be a good win for me – I would reach my target. This would be a great thing.
“I feel alright. Now I feel ready. I’ve been available for the first team for about three months now. I’m just waiting for my chance.
“You have to take your time with an injury, not rush, take it easy and just try to do things in good time.
“Sometimes it doesn’t work the way you want, and sometimes it could be worse.
“Before that I was never injured, so it was the first time. I was a little bit afraid because it was the first. After that, I was more mature about the injuries, I looked forward and tried to be positive.
“But it’s a little bit difficult in your mind, because sometimes you come back after a long time and you are injured again.
“It’s not easy, but you have to stay positive, look forward and say that maybe the future will be better.
“Your family and your friends try to make you feel good and try to stay positive and to be happy, but to be honest, it’s difficult.”
***Massadio Haidara gets a surprise recall to the bench for the Burton match!