By Will Butcher
Rafa Benitez has revealed his decision to leave out Mohamed Diame in Newcastle’s game against Brentford was down to fitness.
The 29-year-old featured for his country Senegal during the international break, as he helped secure a 2-0 win over Mali but was overlooked for Spaniard Ayoze Perez during Saturday’s 3-1 win.
Speaking to the Shields Gazette, Benitez revealed that some of his international stars had returned just 48 hours before the game against Dean Smith’s side and subsequently decided to rotate his squad.
“Players coming back from internationals are always a problem,” Benitez told the Shields Gazette.
“So if you have players here with you working all week during the international break like Ayoze, it makes it easier for you to prepare for the game.
“We had players coming back Wednesday and Thursday, so it’s important you have players with fresh legs who can come in and make things easier for you.”
Diame joined Aleksander Mitrovic and Isaac Hayden on the bench, as all three failed to enter the Championship encounter following their international break antics. Chancel Mbemba was left out of the squad.
Two goals from top scorer Dwight Gayle gave the Toon an eighth win in 12 domestic games, after former Aston Villa star Ciaran Clark had given Benitez’s side the lead. A consolation from Scott Hogan failed to spark a fightback for the Bees.
With Huddersfield dropping points to Sheffield Wednesday, Newcastle move up to second behind Alex Neil’s Norwich as they look to secure three points against Barnsley on Tuesday night.
In other Newcastle news, former Toon star Nolberto Solano has revealed the player his son wants to be.