Rafa Benitez was quizzed after Saturday’s match about players potentially getting into the England squad.

The presence of Gareth Southgate in the crowd at St James Park, had led to much speculation about the possibility of Jamaal Lascelles and/or Jonjo Shelvey getting their chance.

Lascelles has really grown into the Premier League this season and despite having made only 18 starts in the top tier, he is looking the part.

Jonjo Shelvey has had a less smooth journey in these opening months of the campaign but only two years ago he was a regular in the England squad, so no reason why he can’t force his way back into the reckoning.

Newcastle have nobody involved in the England senior squad at the minute but the likes of Elliot, Yedlin, Mbemba, Atsu, Ritchie, and Clark, have been regulars heading out of Tyneside during the international breaks.

However, if Shelvey and/or Lascelles do get the call, they may be thinking twice before deciding whether it is a positive or not, especially if they talk to some of the other members of the Newcastle squad.

Mikel Merino and Ciaran Clark starred in the 1-1 draw with Liverpool on Sunday 1 October, they then went away with their respective international teams.

On their return they surprisingly found themselves dropped to the bench for the game at Southampton, with Isaac Hayden and Florian Lejeune taking their place. Worse was to follow for the duo as Rafa Benitez kept the same team or Saturday’s win over Crystal Palace.

Before the previous international break, Newcastle beat West Ham 3-0 on 26 August with Christian Atsu excellent on the left as he set up the first goal, Chancel Mbemba also doing very well behind him in the left-back sport.

After the internationals Newcastle played at Swansea and both were left out, Jacob Murphy and Jesus Gamez getting very rare starts.

Last season there were odd instances as well, of Rafa Benitez at times leaving players out who had been away with their countries.

The United boss is famed for his meticulous preparations before each game and the explanation previously given, is that when he hasn’t got the chance to work with his regular first team players, he would rather work with some of those squad players left behind and prepare them to play instead.

Nobody could have forecast that Mikel Merino and Ciaran Clark would suddenly be left out.

Merino might be too big a miss and able to force his way in, ahead of potentially Hayden or Shelvey.

However, in Ciaran Clark’s case in particular, he now finds Florian Lejeune with the shirt, having looked excellent in these past two games. The Frenchman looking a knocking bet to keep his place on Monday for the match at Burnley.

Rafa Benitez is also notorious for loving competition within his squad and I wonder if the likes of Jamaal Lascelles and Jonjo Shelvey will be in two minds if they did get a call-up?

Chances are that they would only be going along as squad members anyway with little chance of a game, yet putting their Newcastle places in jeopardy, both short-term and potentially longer.

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  • Paul Patterson

    It’s a fair point. I hate international breaks as it doesn’t benefit Newcastle in the slightest. International fixtures aren’t structured for the benefit of the club paying the players wages either. They are always knackered when they come back.

  • TheFatController

    I think it’s a combination of working on formation but also that they played both their international games, on top of travel.

    So being physically less well prepared as well as tactically, and given Hayden and Lejeunes have quality, it’s logical they play and a drawback for the others of being an international yes.

    Other clubs do the same, particularly with South American internationals. I remember Sir Bobby hated Solano going off for Peru of course.

  • Grahame Johnson

    Rafa was spot on regards Clark he has 2 of the most important games in his international career and that is up to 180 mins of highly competitive football

  • Wor Lass

    I get plenty of predictions wrong but I have to say I wondered whether Clark might be rested. Before the international break he looked leggy to me and had some lapses of concentration in his last two games. He then went away and had two big games, playing (I believe) for the full 180+ minutes. i`m not very surprised that Rafa went with an unchanged side after the Southampton game but I`ll be amazed if he doesn`t change one or two things for Burnley.

  • Sing in the Leazes

    Tough for the lads though. Ambition and all that.
    If Lascelles knocked them back we’d never hear the end of it.

  • Mark Spark

    Not sure what the article is saying,as mentioned below there are reasons why Rafa has changed it up a bit.Rafa likes to rotate as well,the players either show good attitude and work even harder or its hit the highway

  • Monkseaton Magpies

    Rafa will rest players if they have been on International duty and if the other players
    who have taken their places do well that game will keep their place as they should not rocket science.

  • Down Under Mag

    Not sure if the author watched many Rafa games last season or not but he rests players, simple as that. If he is willing to rest players after he feels they have had too much football or need a break to recharge their batteries then surely it won’t make any difference to him if it is an international game or not, it’s just part of his policy to try and reduce player fatigue and injuries over the course of a whole season and when we get to February/March with the thin squad we have then I think we will all be thankful of this policy!

  • steve pearce

    I would naturally rest players who have just returned from international duty as their performance would not be up to par. But as Gareth Southgate played for and managed Middlesborough I can’t see him wanting two Newcastle players in his squad. I for one do not support England or indeed any other country as for me there is only one team – and we ALL support it!

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    In Mbemba`s 1st season he was Newcastle`s best player, along comes Rafa & he hardly gets a game. last season it could be said that Clark was our best player yet for various reasons finds himself on the bench.
    Rafa knows what he`s doing, apart from playing Hoss E Loo week in week out, that lad must be the worst striker in the Prem & then some

    • Mark Spark

      well done,you managed to shoehorn a criticism of Joselu into an article that was nowt to do with him.I presume it will be perez next,although the last time you said Perez shouldn’t be playing in the premiership he shut you up by scoring.

      • MichaelMaximusMoose

        you know sweet FA about the game, A $$hole
        you need a Spark in between your ears

        • Mark Spark

          soooo funny,yet you ignored all my points,or are you just unable to form a coherent counter argument that doesn’t just rely on name calling

          • Mark Spark

            how sweet,youve got a little puppy to vote for you.
            does she do any other tricks?

  • Toonrobbybobson

    Its rest, squad rotation and competition for places. Players dont end up burnt out. Also reduces injuries.