Rafa Benitez indicates he may have no choice but to play Joselu
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.
“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.”
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