By Russell Edge
Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez has revealed he has held talks with all of his central defenders about their game time at the club.
The Spanish manager has used every one of his senior centre backs this season, whether in their natural role or filling in on one of the flanks, but has seemingly settled on his defensive choices after nine games of the campaign.
Club captain Jamaal Lascelles and French defender Florian Lejeune, a summer signing from Eibar, have started the last two games, forcing Ciaran Clark, who began the opening seven matches, to the bench.
Meanwhile Democratic Republic of Congo international Chancel Mbemba has not been utilised in the heart of defence but rather found himself fill the left back slot in Paul Dummetts absence, although he has been completely absent from the first team squad for the last three matches.
Benitez says he does not believe any of them are any better than the others, but insists they must be patient and take their chances when they are handed to them.
He also revealed he has been talking to all four of them over their playing time and reminding them they have to demonstrate their quality in training to be given a chance in the first team.
He told the Chronicle: “It is not that one of them is better than the other one. It depends on the games: maybe you have some injuries. One will play, the other will have to wait.
“I was talking with Jamaal, Mbemba, Clark and Lejuene about that. They have to compete. They have to be ready.
“If you want to play for a top side in the Premier League, you have to be prepared to compete.”
Benitez will have a difficult choice to make when his side travel to Burnley on Monday night, with just left back Dummett missing from the squad through injury.
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