Rafa Benitez explains why he recalled Chancel Mbemba to his Newcastle starting XI

Chancel Mbemba and Rafa Benitez
Chancel Mbemba and Rafa Benitez
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Rafa Benitez has revealed why he recalled Chancel Mbemba to his starting XI.

The Newcastle United defender made his first appearance since late November in midweek.

Mbemba had posted a message on Twitter last month bemoaning his "minimal playing time" while vowing to fight on at the club.

“Despite my minimal playing time this season, I am here and I am not giving up," said the 22-year-old, signed from Anderlecht in the summer of 2015.

“I continue to train ardently and seriously and I will not give up until I find my place in the team.

“My wish is to come back stronger than ever and satisfy you, my fans, as I was able to last season in the Premier League.”

With Ciaran Clark (knee) sidelined, Mbemba got his chance against Burton Albion on Wednesday night alongside captain Jamaal Lascelles.

Asked about Mbemba's recall, United manager Benitez said: "A lot of people are talking about.

"Clark and Lascelles were doing really well together for the majority of games during the season, but Mbemba was really positive in training and the dressing room and was doing well.

"I have been really pleased with him. Without Clark, we had three centre-backs and he had been doing really well.

"He was fine in the last game, so I’m happy with that and with his attitude."

After the Burton game, Mbemba returned to Twitter and said: "Important victory today! Thanks for the support."

Benitez will again be without Clark for tomorrow evening's Championship game against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough.

Grant Hanley is also vying for a place in Benitez's defence.