Rafa Benitez explains Jesus Gamez’s long absence at Newcastle

Achraf Lazaar in EFL Cup action for Newcastle against Wolves this season. Picture by Frank Reid
Achraf Lazaar in EFL Cup action for Newcastle against Wolves this season. Picture by Frank Reid
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Rafa Benitez has welcomed Jesus Gamez and Achraf Lazaar back into his squad – and two more players set set to return to the fold.

Summer signings Gamez and Lazaar have made just four appearances between them so far this season.

We are losing something at the front of the pitch, but gaining at the back for this weekend.

Rafa Benitez

But the pair were in Benitez’s squad for this afternoon’s Championship game against Preston North End at Deepdale.

“They have been training in half-training sessions and now full training sessions,” said United manager Benitez, set to be without Dwight Gayle (hamstring).

“In the case of Gamez and Lazaar, they will be in the squad. We are losing something at the front of the pitch, but gaining at the back for this weekend.”

Right-back Gamez joined from Atletico Madrid, while Lazaar signed from Palermo.

Benitez said: “The team was doing well, and Lazaar picked up a little bit of an injury and was taking a little bit of time to come back, but we didn’t need to rush him.

“Gamez, he was training with a little bit of pain, so I said ‘listen, stop. We cannot keep pushing and pushing’.

“We had to do another treatment and find a solution, and hopefully we have found that solution.”

Benitez also revealed that goalkeeper Rob Elliot and defender Massadio Haidara, yet to play this season, are also back in contention.

Meanwhile, Sean Longstaff scored a hat-trick for Newcastle’s Under-23s in their 5-1 win over Hartlepool United yesterday. Summer signing Elias Sorensen also scored twice in the Central League Cup fixture at the club’s Academy.