Newcastle hero Macdonald urges Benitez to do this against Brighton

By Russell Edge

Newcastle legend Malcolm Macdonald has said that boss Rafael Benitez should avoid making any changes for their clash against Brighton on Sunday.

The Spanish manager is known for rotating his side, and made three changes, including two in defence, for the team’s last match against Stoke, despite having won their previous two games.

The gamble paid off though, with the Magpies pulling off their third successive victory to fire them to the heady heights of fourth.

However, Macdonald, who scored 95 goals in 187 appearances during his time on Tyneside, has urged Benitez not to repeat the trick for the club’s visit to Brighton on Sunday, stating that those in the starting XI should remain there.

Writing for the Chronicle, he said: “I would urge Rafa to resist changing the team at Brighton.

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“I would stick with Mikel Merino and Isaac Hayden as United’s central midfield pair.

“(Jonjo) Shelvey went out of the team of his own accord, red-carded on the opening day and Rafa rightly hasn’t rushed to bring him back.

“I would keep Jamaal Lascelles and Ciaran Clark as a pair.

“United’s skipper has emerged like a man mountain, a true athlete, and the ability of Clark at his shoulder has been magnificent.”

Lascelles has been the club’s hero in recent weeks, with match winning headers against Swansea and Stoke, while Merino has impressed following his loan from Borussia Dortmund.

Macdonald praised Benitez and his staff for their management of the side, but also highlighted that the players’ own approach had helped the club taste success this season.

“All credit must go to Rafa and his coaches and to the players for carrying out their instructions to the letter,” he told the Chronicle

“Each and every player has bought into the rotation system, accepting football is now a squad game not a team game.”

The Magpies could see themselves return to fourth place with a win on Sunday, leapfrogging Watford and Tottenham who both came out on top in their matches on Saturday.

In other Newcastle United news, Benitez has given a hint as to the future of Shelvey in the starting XI.

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