Rafa Benitez explains why he prefers Rondon to Mitrovic and 4 Newcastle players miss Fulham match
Rafa Benitez goes into Saturday’s match, hoping to make it five wins, two draws and 17 points from the nine matches in the run up to Christmas.
It would be a remarkable change in fortunes considering the first nine games of the season only produced two points.
Standing in his way are Aleksandar Mitrovic and Fulham.
Asked about the Serbian striker returning for the first time since a summer move, Rafa Benitez said about Mitro: ‘He is doing well and he has nothing to prove. I wish him all the best after this game.’
As for selling Aleksandar Mitrovic and bringing in Salomon Rondon, Rafa explained: ‘He suits Fulham’s style of play and he will give everything, Rondon is a strong centre forward with more mobility (than Mitro), which is what we were looking for…’
The manager revealed that the club has failed to keep Ki Sung-yeung beyond Saturday’s game before the Asian Cup, the club duty bound to release any players two weeks before the first game of the competition.
Japan had already agreed to Yoshinori Muto delaying his departure until after Man Utd at home on 2 January but South Korea have knocked NUFC back, so Ki will train in Abu Dhabi with his national side starting on 26 December, the day Newcastle play at Liverpool.
As for Saturday, the manager had already indicated that Florian Lejeune will be given more time before being brought back into first team football.
So he won’t play against Fulham, plus another three are also ruled out. Shelvey and Darlow remain on the injured list and now Ciaran Clark has joined them with an ankle problem.
In better news, the manager confirmed Federico Fernandez is available for tomorrow.
“There is no news on transfers and no news on the takeover.
“We are doing more or less fine, everyone is focused at our club.
“All of this talk hasn’t affected us.
“He (Mitrovic) is doing well and he has nothing to prove.
“I wish him all the best after this game.
“He suits Fulham’s style of play and he will give everything.
“If he scores but we score three and win, then I don’t care.
“Rondon is a strong centre forward with more mobility (than Mitro), which is what we were looking for…
“He has to carry on scoring goals.
“Everyone is focussed.
“The players are concentrating on training sessions and football.
“Ki will play this game then afterwards he goes because he’s going to training in Abu Dhabi (starting) on December 26.
“I wanted to keep him longer but no chance, he has been a very good option but hopefully Jonjo (Shelvey) comes back sooner rather than later.
“We have lost Clark, who has a problem with his ankle, but Fede (Fernández) is fine.”
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