Rafa Benitez drops a BIG hint about his team selection for Newcastle’s game against Cardiff

Dwight Gayle and Aleksandar Mitrovic
Dwight Gayle and Aleksandar Mitrovic

Rafa Benitez has dropped a big hint about his team selection after Dwight Gayle proved his fitness ahead of Cardiff City’s visit to St James’s Park.

Gayle is available for Newcastle United’s home game this afternoon.

Dwight has been training really well the last couple of days, but then if we don’t play with two strikers, then more or less they will have an idea (of who’s playing) already.

Rafa Benitez

The striker has recovered from the hamstring problem which saw him miss last weekend’s 2-1 win over Preston North End.

But 11-goal Gayle could have to settle for a place on the bench at St James’s Park.

Aleksandar Mitrovic has scored four goals in two games.

And Benitez has hinted that Mitrovic will start a third successive game for the Championship leaders.

United’s players normally only find out if they are playing an hour and a half before kick-off time.

However, Benitez believes Gayle and Mitrovic will have an idea about his team selection.

Asked if the pair would only find out if they were playing at 1.30pm, Benitez said: “Normally yes.

“But in this case maybe not, because obviously Mitrovic has been scoring goals, Dwight has had a little problem.

“Dwight has been training really well the last couple of days, but then if we don’t play with two strikers, then more or less they will have an idea already.”

Some managers tell their players the team the day before a game. Benitez, however, has always keep them guessing.

“There are two ways to approach this decision,” he said. “One is to give the team and everyone knows and then they are focused and concentrated and ready.

“But then you may have seven players not playing and they will be (not happy).

“If something happens, then you have to change their mood because they may be thinking ‘he has no confidence in me’, so maybe they would not be ready.

“The other way is that nobody knows so that everyone has to be ready.“

Asked about his experience of keeping players guessing, he added: “I remember with Valencia that we won the league twice and the UEFA Cup, so fantastic.

“But I remember games when I was changing games and we were losing. And some fans were saying ‘well why did you play this player and not the other one?’.”