Rafa Benitez has admitted that there is every chance he may have no option but to play Joselu against Arsenal.

With Salomon Rondon swapping clubs with Dwight Gayle for the season, it is clear that Rondon is set to be the first choice striker with Joselu as back up.

After a chaotic pre-season where the loan striker had minimal involvement in games and disrupted pre-season training with West Brom, the Venezuelan international then switched to St James Park late on.

Having an understandably slow/phased start to the season with Newcastle, the number nine has looked better and better with each appearance.

After a decent cameo against Spurs when he hit the bar, Rondon eventually started against both Chelsea and Man City where he did very well as the lone striker. The forward showing great strength in holding up the ball,plus making Yedlin’s goal at the Etihad.

In between those Chelsea and Man City PL matches, Salomon Rondon made a brief sub appearance at Forest in the League Cup, scoring an excellent goal.

However, the international break has intervened and Rafa Benitez admits that he may find that he can’t start the loan striker against Arsenal, with Joselu set to deputise.

Of all the Newcastle players away on international duty, Salomon Rondon was the last to play his final game.

After a 2-1 friendly defeat to Colombia where Rondon played the full game, he came on as a sub in his second game, scoring both goals after his 56th minute entrance, to beat Panama 2-0. The match didn’t finish until around 4am (UK time) on Wednesday morning, with a long trip facing him back to Newcastle.

In the past, Rafa Benitez has regularly left players returning from internationals on the bench, and the Newcastle boss admits he faces difficult decisions, especially with Rondon and Yedlin, as the USA completed their 1-0 win over Mexico only half an hour before the Venezuela match ended.

Rafa says he has been stung in the past, even when players think they are fine to play after an international break, the reality can prove otherwise.

As an added negative Rafa Benitez talks about Rondon having to get back from Miami after this final international but actually it is worse than that. The Venezuela match against Colombia was played in Miami but the win over Panama was actually played out in Panama City, which is more difficult to get back from than Miami.

Both Yedlin and Rondon are looking key players for Newcastle this season and to have both missing would be a massive setback, especially with Matt Ritchie already looking very doubtful for Saturday and Rafa saying Shelvey will only be available if there is no reaction to his recent injury in training.

Rafa Benitez:

“This period (when playing internationals) is quite difficult.

“DeAndre (Yedlin) and (Salomon) Rondon will come late.

“It will be difficult for us because sometimes they come to us and they say ‘I’m fine’…but they can be tired – Rondon played in Miami (and has to get back from there)

“It is important for us to keep the communication with their medical staff (at the international teams) and make the right decision about who plays.

“Some players are training now and feeling confident, as for the others, who knows?

“In the end it’s a difficult decision.

“I remember back when I was at Valencia and four players were called for international duty and they came back.

“We had a difficult game and I asked them before the game: “‘Are you fine?’

“They said yes…but if I could make four substitutions after two minutes I would have.

“We lost the game – they did not have the energy to make an impact and they were key players (at the time) for us.”



  • Paul Patterson

    Rondon will get the last 25 minutes..

  • Kenny

    Ffs, these guys are professional athletes, playing the likes of the Hoss & a stand in right back, you may as well give Arsenal the points now

  • Damon Horner

    Rafa seems big on his players being fresh and prepared. I reckon he’ll start and Rondon will come on later.

  • Mxpx

    Why don’t we just play a cb up top they’re better at defending from the front

    • Kenny

      that’s a plan

  • toonterrier

    Its amazing that professional footballers cant manage to play a couple of games a week without being worn out when if you watched the cycling last week you saw them pedal a hundred miles per day several times in a week without taking sick leave. Get a grip you overpaid players and put a shift in,

    • Wor Lass

      I take your point – they can seem a bit precious – but that`s not the best of comparisons. The cyclists aren`t flying thousands of miles through various time zones and having lumps kicked out of them whilst they`re on their bikes. If you`ve flown back to Blighty from America you`ll know how weird and disorienting jet lag can be (not to mention the impact of all that free booze!).

      • toonterrier

        I’m ex Air Force and spent half the year flying all over the world and in most cases getting of the plane then fixing any faults before going off to eat and sleep after a few night caps at the nearest bar or NAAFI. Also played lots of sports at a fairly high level and never felt worn out oh and I didn’t earn mega bucks. Not getting at all the players but there are several who seem to be there only for the money.

        • Sickandtired

          Nee offence like, but as an ex servicemen you wouldn’t have had to go through all the civilian rigmarole involved in international flights these days.
          As ex RAF trade, and not regiment, I’m sure you weren’t any fitter than most civvies.
          You weren’t expected to run around at full pelt for 90 mins as part of your job!

        • Wor Lass

          But Rafa`s point is that HE has to reign in the players and stop them from overdoing it. He is ultra cautious but maybe that`s why we did so well on the injury front last season.

        • Wor Lass

          I had a good mate who was ex Air Force. He seemed jet-lagged 10 years later!

    • Jezza

      True. I remember when players used to play 3 games in 4 days over Easter and never complained and this was when the top professionals were on 200 quid a week.

  • steve

    No other manager seems to have this issue .

    • Wor Lass

      Yes they do – and most other managers actually have options.

      • steve

        Let’s see if Allison and Firmino manage to play for Liverpool on their return from South America this weekend then.

        • SuperDesHamilton

          They’ll probably have a private jet waiting for their match to finish, Rondon & Yedlin will be in the cargo of an air Baghdad plane

    • glassjawsh-got-banned

      every manager with internationals in their side has this issue

      • Kenny

        there should be no issue, you play your best 11, end of story

        • glassjawsh-got-banned

          unfortunately real life gets in the way of doing that every week

          • steve

            Other managers seem to see good international performances as a boost, Rafa sees it as a reason to rest.

  • Mrkgw

    He wouldn’t be in this position were it not for the departure of Mitrovic. Rafa is responsible for that clanger so, his excuses are lame and he wins no sympathy from me for that.

    • Wor Lass

      He`s not making excuses, though – just explaining his thinking and, possibly doing a bit of kidology. He played the Hoss all the time when Mitro was still here and didn`t feel the need to apologise. I think Rondon is a better striker than the Hoss but he has tucked away two nice headers (especially the second one) so far. I was a big Mitro fan and sorry to see him go but he has gone now – we need to get over it.

      • Mrkgw

        Understand the points that you make but, surely the mere fact that he played Hoss over Mitro last season shows a shocking lack of judgement. Remarkable.

        • Wor Lass

          I couldn`t understand it and kept thinking there must have been a major bust-up behind the scenes but Mitro`s recent interview seems to have put an end to that theory. He admitted himself that he just couldn`t play the game Rafa wanted from him. Maybe it is just as simple as that.

          • Kenny

            he hit a half volley into the goal with 3 defenders on his back the other night, Rafa made a gross error of judgement for 2 years with Mitrovic & he didn’t even see the money for a replacement.

          • Down Under Mag

            Exactly. He didn’t suit Rafa’s tactics, the issue wasn’t him being let go…he was always going to score goals in the right setup…just never did it for us. The biggest issue as I said above was letting him go and not sanctioning a suitable replacement…I think Rondon will come good but to start the season with a loan striker clearly short on fitness just shows the mentality at the club.

          • Wor Lass

            It`s a bit harsh to say he never did it for us. Despite not playing for months on end he was our top scorer for quite a while last season.

        • Angelswithdirtyfaces

          It shows a shocking lack of options. Ashley calls the shots not Rafa

          • Martin Rooney

            Lack of options? He was a girl scoring option Rafa didn’t use him. Simple as that. If you have s goal every other game striker that your manager isn’t using isn’t fair enough to say sell him before you get home another bench warmer?

          • Ram Kishore

            Mitro is gone.. Club failed to buy a replacement early be it Plea or Rondon.. our transfer dealings have been quite a lot late.. Simple

        • Jezza

          To be fair Mitro was awful when he got his chances under Rafa. He showed good potential in his first season here but he seemed to go backwards in his second season. I imagine you weren’t at the Cup tie at Oxford either when Mitro looked hopelessly out of his depth against average third division defenders. I think the Mitro situation is deflecting attention away from the real problem which is the fact that Ashley has never allowed the club to invest properly in a suitable striker.

          • Mrkgw

            Thing is Jezza, that I totally get your point iro Oxford however, he is a young lad with a bright future ahead of him. The myth that he isn’t Premiership standard is near blown out of the water given his current form. Rafa failed him – yes, he didn’t fit the system but, Rafa’s style of play is awful at the moment matey.

          • Jezza

            Mitro is doing really well at Fulham now but to be fair, in the last couple of seasons at Newcastle he never showed any signs of being able to perform the way he currently is.

          • Benji

            it’s because he barely played you th!ck f##k.

    • glassjawsh-got-banned

      Mitro is just as at fault for refusing to track back as Rafa is for not giving him a chance. Benitez would spend 90% of Mitro’s time on the pitch SCREAMING at him to move into a position where he needed him to be. It was a mutual distaste.

      • steve

        The Fulham and Serbia managers seem capable of having him work at both ends of the pitch.

        • Down Under Mag

          He doesn’t though, he stays up top and that is how they play that suits him. Rafa wants all his players to work a shift to close down the opposition and Mitro doesn’t have enough in the tank (his own admission) to do that role so was never going to fit in here. To accomodate Mitro we would have needed to change the entire setup of the team and in trying to get him a few more goals per season would likely have been shipping two more every game at the other end. Rafa not using Mitro I understand and back, he sold him because he was told the only way he could get more transfer funds was to sell players…which he did…then had to make do with loan signings. Selling Mitro wasn’t the problem, Ashley not allowing Rafa to spend the money on an adequate replacement was the issue as was sanctioning the move by the owner while not doing what was needed to secure the manager. I’m guessing there isn’t a buy-back or sell-on clause in the move either…that would be far too forward thinking for the eejits running this club. What is a shame is Rafa will probably be gone next season and the new manager could probably have played Mitro better. Such is the way of this club there just seems to be no long term plan other than those that suit Ashley’s bank balance!

          • Benji

            what a load of bo!!ocks.

          • Ram Kishore

            I think he isn’t that bad in his assessment.. Calm down pal.

          • Jezza

            Just ignore the troll.

          • Benji

            fu#k off lowlife

          • molend

            Didn’t Mitro give away a penalty in Fulham’s last game for handball? So where was he? And if you watch Serbia’s matches he certainly performs defensive duties very well. My worry is that he seems to be developing from a target man into a striker., in which case his value will rise astronomically. I fear this may be very bad for Our Supreme Leader’s health.

          • Thomas Tonel

            Oh stop you moron, penalty was while such unfortunate occurrence that probably would not happen EVER again, but, what you forgot to mention that he is THE BEST player on the pitch for both Fuhlam and Serbia national team and scoring at will. The only one to blame is a washed out defensively oriented fat spanish waiter. THE ONLY ONE to blame. Not fatty but HIM.

          • molend

            Thank you for the compliment, but I’m not sure you’ve actually understood my post. I was trying, despite my poor English, to suggest that Mitrovic can’t be accused of not defending because he actually does. And that he’s on the way to becoming a very impressive player. I admit I’m biased because I’ve always been a fan of his, though I can see why he didn’t fit into Rafa’s system.

          • Thomas Tonel

            you right! i should’ve read little bit closer. I admit. Mitrovc has been impressive player as far as i know. He is U19 world cup winner where he was the best player, went with Partizan Belgrade to champions league, dominated in Belgium league and then …….NADA……….. under fat spanish waiter, then as soon as he left fat spanish waiter horrible, insulting type of play, he blossomed again. Hey, call it as it is….rafa is horrible coach, once good but now not even a shadow of coach he was. Its all his fault…….and by the way Mitro is only 23 years old.

          • molend

            Thank you for your reply. I had a feeling that we weren’t really in disagreement.- over Mitrovic. Benitze, however, I hold in high regard. But let not that be a bone of contention. If you’re not too far from Bulgaria, came and we’ll discuss it at length.

          • Jezza

            Excellent comment.

      • Martin Rooney

        When did a striker ever ‘track back’?
        A term referring to following the opposing player in a defensive mode as he makes a forward movement into you teams territory.
        That is in Mitro’s case the central defender being in the box.
        Hadaway man ya divi

      • SuperDesHamilton

        And when he did he was elbowing people in the face despite us being 3-0 as well

    • Ram Kishore

      Even if we had Mitro, he would have played Joselu..
      We could have either had Mitro sitting or playing the way Mitro playing the way he didn’t want.. he understood the situation. Why is it hard for u to let go pal.. Did Mitro not clear the air..

      • Mrkgw

        Just hard because I could see the longer term potential. He was young, and was always going to go onto score goals somewhere. Typically, he has elevated Fulham – and we were the mugs thst facilitated that. Meanwhile, we are left with Joselu for example. I’ll say something highly contentious here but, I”m rapidly losing faith with Rafa. And, on talking to other supporters it would seem that they are too.

        • Ram Kishore

          I can understand bro.. results and performances are the ones that makes us fans in general have faith in the team. I will put forward the question.
          If we had started well with atleast two wins or if Mitro hadn’t scored only 2 goals in his 4 matches would u keep on raving about ‘Rafa made a mistake with Mitro’. If Rondon had been brought on earlier and started with a bang would u even give a thought about mitro after ee had sold him for 22+5 million.
          I know it’s all ifs and buts.
          I bet once the results start turning for the better u would be on the upward about Rafa .. its just been 4 matches.. yes we are shyte against Forest .. Give it time..

          • Mrkgw

            ‘If’, then yep – I’d go with that. Absolutely matey. Will give it time – we have to but, ultimately, we need Ashley gone much sooner than that. Lets hope that this rumour of his revised asking price to £300 is founded.

        • Jezza

          Do you really think that Joselu was Rafa’s number one striker target at the start of the 2017 summer window?

          Can you name another manager who we could have realistically got who would have taken this Newcastle team to a top half of the Premiership finish last season?

          Which manager could we realistically get now who would do a better job than Rafa?

          • Mrkgw

            In fairness Jezza, no-one in their right mind would want to work under this regime. No-one with an ounce of credibility anyway.

          • Jezza

            True. We’re back to the likes of Kinnear and Pardew once Rafa goes. The thing is Rafa is head and shoulders above any other manager we could possibly get just now. His tactics may be very defensive and boring but if he’d had the kind of transfer budget his counterparts at say Huddersfield and Brighton have enjoyed I’m sure you’d see the Newcastle team playing a far more attacking and entertaining type of football.

        • Geordiegiants

          Yeah that’s been the same from the start of every season when we haven’t been winnng. You look back on here, fickle asfuck our fans, in fact unbelievable. Then the same fans singing his name 2 weeks later after a couple of wins.

          • Mrkgw

            Thats what I find hard to grasp – how those that previously chanted ‘Mitro’ turned and began to state that they didn’t rate the lad. That was fickle – no doubt.

          • Geordiegiants

            I have never ever rated him, still don’t at this present moment, The Hoss is only 2 behind him. He needs to do it over a season or 2 regularly until he is recognised as a top Striker.

          • Mrkgw

            Well, at least that’s been your opinion from the outset. Fair kop for that and each and every one of us have a view. I reckon he will only ever improve but time as we know will tell.

    • Geordiegiants

      Mitro and him didn’t get on for what ever reason, would you rather have Mitro here playing under someone like fat sham, or Rafa and his choice?

      • Mrkgw

        At this time, I genuinely can’t answer that. I have heard a few say that if for example, Pardew had adopted tactics as we have done lately then he would have been slaughtered for it and there is some merit in that line of thought. Lets face it, football is grim at the moment. Rafa played the same way at Liverpool I recall and if that”s the future then there’s no enjoyment in that.

        • Jezza

          You’ve got to play to your strengths and we just haven’t got the quality to play Keeganesque football these days. Pardew had more quality to work with at NUFC than Rafa has ever had because Ashley’s asset stripping operation was still a work in progress back then but is pretty much complete now. Regardless of the tactics, Rafa took a Championship team to a top half finish in the Premiership last season.

        • Geordiegiants

          That’s a crazy thing to say, I bet if we had quality players and played like we do now and won the champions league you wouldn’t be saying that.
          Pinocchio didn’t have the ability to play tactics like Rafa, and if he had of played like that he would of been slaughtered because he had no structure to anything he did.

    • Jezza

      Mitrovic didn’t leavec because of Rafa, he left because Fulham offered £22 million. If Rafa had picked Mitro for every game last season, Mitro would still be a Fulham player now because Ashley was never going to turn down that kind of money.

      • Benji

        he left because rafa didn’t play him you moron. so he went on loan to Fulham where he proved he was a decent player hence why they bid for him after the loan spell. you think they would have bid 22mill if he was playing week in week out?

        • Leazes.

          He didn’t play him because he’s a bloody useless liability.

  • Kenny

    He was manager of Real Madrid, the whole team were internationals,
    did he play the B team in the following league match after the internationals ?
    i hate to say it but he is spinning the schitt 💩

    • Angelswithdirtyfaces

      Weren’t even his B team all internationals ?

      • Kenny

        No

      • SuperDesHamilton

        Aye nigh on every single player at Madrid is an international, it’s a crazy comparison real to Newcastle

        • Ashley-out

          No it isnt

          • SuperDesHamilton

            Are you backward?

            When Carvajal gets tired they replace him with Oyarazabl or Nacho. When our right backs injured we replace him with Manquillo….

            See the silliness in the comparison yet?

    • 1957

      November 15 he played Barca after a international break, all of his players were apparently ‘injured’ until after the internationals or excused international duty while Barcelona’s had been all over the world and Messi was only fit enough to play 25 minutes.

      The result Barcelona won 4-0 at Madrid so clearly travelling isnt an issue for some teams / managers. It sealed his fate at Madrid, I was on a weeks holiday there at the time and he was pilloried in the media and people I spoke to all wanted him out.

    • Sickandtired

      Rondon wasn’t fit when he arrived. He’ll be in [email protected] state after these games, international travel, and jet lag.
      Comparing Real to Rafa’s choices here is infantile.

      • Kenny

        is it, Rondon has played 2 games scored 2 goals & he is full fit so your argument is bull schitt

    • Ram Kishore

      U definitely seem to factor in lot of things before u say something.. Do u really try to keep a open mind and read other people’s opinions? Ig they seem to add few points and actually engage in explaining u few things.. yes u r entitled to ur opinion but try checking few facts and then make it

  • SuperDesHamilton

    It’s absolutely paramount that Yedlin starts, he’s been by far our best attacking outlet.

    We had this trouble for years with Nobby Solano getting back on a Thursday & playing Saturday.

  • SuperDesHamilton

    Some of these comments are brilliant on here like, yes professionals in theory should be able to play 90 minutes twice a week. But normal athletes aren’t absolutely slaughtered for the smallest of things, no wonder players won’t play unless their 100%, but that’s modern life for you.

    PLus anyone who’s been on a long haul flight can attest to how after you’ve got off all you wanna do is sleep for a week. Longest single flight I did was Kuala Lumpur to London which was 14 hours & it ruined me so I can see both points. I could sleep for a week after they can’t

  • Ashley-out

    last season Rafa kept playing Joselu who cant hit a barn door in front of Mitrovich
    top manager he is, he is also pig headed and biased.

    • Geordiegiants

      He is also a time and time again proven winner!

    • Leazes.

      He was expecting a decent striker, but Ashley had other ideas!

  • Will Venus

    Why wouldn’t he play him? He’s our top scorer after all

  • Nothing wrong with that, the guy can definitely head crosses in and win the first ball, but he needs 2 fast wingers next to him when he does, so he can relay and start something. He can hold up play if there is a PLAY worth holding up for. I was really hoping Muto and Perez play together just behind Joselu to give us that edge, but it looks like we won’t be playing 4-3-3 or 3-4-3 anytime soon.