By Will Butcher

Rafa Benitez has revealed that he had Newcastle utility player Vurnon Anita scouted during his days at Ajax.

Anita has been a mainstay in the Magpies side since his £7million move from Ajax back in 2012, playing predominantly in central midfield but also filling in at right-back.

Speaking in his pre-match press conference on Friday afternoon, Benitez was quoted by Shields Gazette reported Miles Starforth on his personal Twitter account as saying that Anita had a very strong footballing brain.

It is unclear what team Benitez was with when he sent scouts to file a report on the 27-year-old Holland international.

Anita is expected to start for the Toon on Saturday as they play host to Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich on Saturday, as he continues his run in the first team at right back.

Since his debut against in August 2012 against Tottenham, Newcastle’s number eight has gone on to make 136 appearances in all competitions. Goalscoring is not his forte though, with just three goals coming in that time.

Anita will be hoping to impress on Saturday, as he looks to continue his fine form and persuade Newcastle chiefs to offer him a new contract. His current deal expires on less than 12 months.

Newcastle will maintain their position at the summit of the Championship table with a win against Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich, as they hope second placed Norwich slip up at home to Preston.

In other Newcastle news, this defender has been declared fit to face Saturday’s opponents.