By Matt Farr
Rafa Benitez has handed a recall to under-fire forward Ayoze Perez for Newcastle’s clash with Nottingham Forest – and fans are not happy.
Perez was named as Dwight Gayle’s strike partner for the Championship game between the two sides, despite scoring just three league goals from 14 appearances this season.
The Spaniard comes in for midfielder Mo Diame, who is being rested after the midweek game.
Gayle retains his place in the side from Tuesday’s EFL cup defeat to Hull, but there is no place for Darryl Murphy. Aleksandar Mitrovic is on the bench.
Newcastle fans are not best pleased by Benitez’s decision to recall Perez to the team, claiming that both Murphy and Christian Atsu would be much better options – and they have taken to Twitter to voice their concerns.
Here are a selection of their messages:
Ayoze really needs to show up tonight
— Dominic (@DominicCraik) December 2, 2016
Solid team apart from Ayoze. Thought Atsu was unlucky not to get a start the way Ritchie’s been playing recently.
— . (@BykerWall) December 2, 2016
Huge night for Ayoze today. Needs to show much more than he has recently #nufc
— Evin (@EvG_Football) December 2, 2016
Howay Ayoze lad. Need a performance tonight. #NUFC
— rob (@robfraser111) December 2, 2016
@NUFC_Index Ayoze better turn up tonight. Invisible man far too often
— Steve McKenna (@SteveMcKenna_) December 2, 2016
How Ayoze gets in that team after Saturday is beyond me. ???? #NUFC
— Simon Judson (@SimonJudson) December 2, 2016
What I would give to have Hatem Ben Arfa in CAM now, Ayoze and Diame are so inconsistent, we need a consistent No.10 in January #NUFC
— Mitch (@Mitch_GB_17) December 2, 2016
Perez is one of four changes to Newcastle’s side, with former Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Karl Darlow replacing Matz Sels in goal for the visitors.
DeAndre Yedlin comes in for Vurnon Anita at right-back, while Paul Dummett gets the nod at left-back at the expense of Achraf Lazaar.
The Magpies hold a two-point lead over Brighton at the top of the Championship table. But they have lost their last two matches, with a defeat to Blackburn preceding the cup exit to Hull.
A win for the away side would not only extend their lead at the top of the league, but would also give Benitez’s side a necessary boost in confidence.
In other Newcastle news, midfielder Matt Ritchie has given his verdict on the Magpies’ current form.