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15th Aug, 2016 | 10:43am

Benitez reveals why he left star man on the bench in Newcastle defeat

By Dominic Toner

Rafa Benitez has explained he left Matt Ritchie on the bench against Huddersfield due to an injury concern.

Newcastle lost 2-1 against the Championship minnows on Saturday, to following their opening day setback at Fulham.

Benitez decided to risk star signing Ritchie for the entire second-half as Nakhi Wells put Huddersfield 1-0 ahead on the stroke of half-time.

“He was stiff during the week and he was not training, but we put him on the bench just in case we needed him,” Benitez told the Chronicle. “In the end we had to play him.

“I am happy because he was good when he came on, but I’m disappointed because that was something we didn’t want to do. We didn’t want to take the risk. He seems to be fine but it’s a pity because when you have to play a player when he has not trained during the week, it means something is wrong.”

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Another Newcastle recruit Dwight Gayle did score his first goal for the club to level up the scoreline but Jack Payne grabbed a late winner for Huddersfield to compile misery on the pre-season title favourites.

Some Newcastle fans have predicted an early departure for Benitez on Twitter following the defeat.

Newcastle have outspent all of their Championship rivals in this transfer window by recruiting a host of Premier League players, with pair Gayle and Matt Ritchie costing a combined £22million.

Former Bournemouth midfielder Ritchie revealed it was impossible for him to turn down a move to Newcastle after he joined the club for a reported £10million deal.

The winger was an integral part in Bournemouth’s promotion from England’s second-tier in 2014-15 and should provide his new side the experience in mounting a promotion push.

In other Newcastle team news, Huddersfield manager David Wagner has predicted where the club will finish this season.