Mo Diame leaves Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez with a conundrum to solve
Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez believes that Mo Diame has posed him with a post-international break midfield conundrum.
The Senegalese, who recently retired from international football, proved an able deputy to Jonjo Shelvey against Birmingham last weekend, with the Magpies talisman having to sit out the St Andrews stalemate from the off due to a virus.
And with a number of other midfield options in that area, Benitez thinks Diame has given him food for thought when selecting his next side for the visit of Wigan Athletic in a little more than a week’s time.
“I thought he was fine,” said the Spaniard.
“We knew it could be a difficult game because they have three players in the middle and we had to manage that.
“But I thought Mo gave us some fresh legs and won plenty of second challenges.
“He was fine, he was passing the ball and also regaining some balls that we lost.”
While midfield is somewhere United and Benitez have found themselves lacking in recent times, light is at the end of the tunnel.
Isaac Hayden is back in training for the Magpies, and is fighting his way back to fitness, while Shelvey is also expected to be fine by the time next weekend’s St James’s Park clash comes around.
Jack Colback is fighting fit, without the fear of a looming two-game ban, and Vurnon Anita can also move from full-back, where Rafa has preferred to play the Dutchman.
So Benitez has a number of options ahead of the clash against the Latics.
On Diame he continued: “He could play in that postiion but it also depends on the players around him.
“Hopefully Hayden will be back in a few days and then we should also have Jonjo back to full strength.
“With Jack as well, that means quite a lot of competition - but it’s good to have options, especially if you have to change something during a game.”
One area where the manager was less pleased with his side’s use of the ball in the wide areas last week.
“It was just disappointing that maybe some of the things we did in the wide areas could have been better,” said Benitez.
“That might have helped us score a goal.
“It didn’t really happen though. I wouldn’t say that we were happy but maybe one more point with one less game is positive.”