Rafa Benitez reveals what Newcastle’s Matt Ritchie told him before the Brentford game

Rafa Benitez before the game against Brentford
Rafa Benitez before the game against Brentford
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Matt Ritchie pleaded with Rafa Benitez to play against Brentford – despite being laid low by sickness.

Ritchie was left out of Benitez’s Newcastle United’s matchday squad for Saturday’s game.

He wanted to play, but we had a conversation with the doctor, and he said he couldn’t play, but Ritchie was pushing me to play, which is a good sign.

Rafa Benitez

And Christian Atsu – who scored the club’s winner against Rotherham United earlier this month – made his full home debut against Brentford, who were beaten 3-1.

Club doctor Paul Catterson felt Ritchie was not well enough to play, though the winger was desperate to be involved.

Ritchie could return tomorrow night when Newcastle take on Barnsley at Oakwell.

United manager Benitez said: “Ritchie was pushing me all the time.

“He wanted to play, but we had a conversation with the doctor, and he said he couldn’t play, but Ritchie was pushing me to play, which is a good sign.”

Benitez – who also lost Chancel Mbemba to a leg problem before the game – had to take off captain Jamaal Lascelles in the second half.

Asked about injuries, Benitez said: “We had Lascelles we had to take him off, because he felt weak but nothing else.

“Before the game we had Mbemba and Ritchie, who had a problem with the virus.”

Meanwhile, Benitez says striker Daryl Murphy, signed from Ipswich Town in the summer, is close to a return from a calf injury, though he is unlikely to be available for the Barnsley game.

“Daryl Murphy is nearly there and this week he will be fine, although I’m not sure if he’ll be ready for Tuesday,” said Benitez.