Rafa Benitez suddenly looking at three centre-backs ruled out
Rafa Benitez was a very happy man after watching his team come back from two goals down.
Trailing by two at the break against Everton, the manager made an early substitution, taking captain Jamaal Lascelles off and going to a back four with Paul Dummett coming on at left-back and Matt Ritchie pushed up as winger.
The immediate reaction of fans and media alike, was that this was a brave tactical decision, taking off your captain and changing formation.
However, the manager has now revealed that the substitution was forced on him.
Rafa Benitez asked about Jamaal Lascelles substitution:
“We don’t know [if his injury is serious].
“It seems to be that it was not very serious but he said he could not carry on, so we made the substitution.”
In addition, Rafa Benitez is also without Ciaran Clark at the moment.
The Republic of Ireland international last played back in January and has been ruled out with an unspecified injury for five weeks now, last named on the bench for the defeat to Spurs at Wembley on 2 February.
It would be a massive surprise if he was in any position to be involved at Bournemouth next Saturday.
Just as Rafa Benitez was enjoying the benefits of a pretty much full squad (apart from Clark and Elliot) to choose from, suddenly he is picking up a few problems, with also Sean Longstaff now out for the season.
Rafa is now going from having more centre-backs than he knows what to do with, to a position where next Saturday he will have to revert to using only two centre-backs.
The rules on yellow cards leading to bans this season are as follows:
A player who receives five yellow cards before the 19th match-week will be issued with a one-match ban.
If a player has accumulated 10 yellow cards by match-week 32 they will be handed a two-match ban.
A total of 15 yellow cards in the duration of the season will result in a three-match ban.
Against Everton, Fabian Schar picked up his 10th yellow card in the Premier League, pretty good going for somebody who has started only 16 games this season, off the bench in another two.
Yesterday was the 30th match of the season, so Schar will miss both Bournemouth next Saturday and then Arsenal away on Monday 1 April.
As it stands, it looks as though Rafa has two centre-backs definitely available for Bournemouth, Florian Lejeune and Federico Fernandez.
Fernandez has been very unlucky as he was excellent over the course of his 15 PL starts, just a victim of numbers with so many options. However, he hasn’t played any PL games since December and hasn’t even been named on the bench since Wolves away nearly five weeks ago.
Hopefully this two week international break after Bournemouth will help Rafa Benitez have a centre-back surplus once again when we get to April.
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