Rafa Benitez explains his decision to leave Mohamed Diame out of his Newcastle side
Ayoze Perez was chosen ahead of Diame for the game at St James’s Park, which Newcastle United won 3-1 to move up to second place in the table.
Diame, signed from Hull City in the summer, admitted ahead of the Championship match that he needed to give more to his team in the final third of the pitch.
The midfielder was speaking after returning from international duty with Senegal.
Benitez left him on the bench and handed Perez his first start in almost a month against Brentford.
Asked if the move was tactical, Benitez replied: “Players coming back from internationals are always a problem.
“So if you have players here with you working all week during the international break like Ayoze, it makes it easier for you to prepare for the game.
“We had players coming back Wednesday and Thursday, so it’s important you have players with fresh legs who can come in and make things easier for you.”
Diame helped Senegal beat Cape Verde 2-0 in a World Cup qualifier last weekend.
Benitez must now decide on his No 10 for tomorrow night’s game against Barnsley a Oakwell.
Meanwhile, Benitez and Jamaal Lascelles, his captain, paid a surprise visit to Newcastle United Foundation’s Westgate Kicks on Friday night and chatted and met with all the children taking part.
Asked about the visit, Benitez – keen to develop links in the community – said: “The foundation is doing a fantastic job.
“I took Lascelles. It was just half an hour. Lascelles was brilliant. For me, watching football and talking about it is no hardship.
“One of the young lads was from a small village near Madrid I used to play for when I was younger.
“He was too young to remember me playing!
“I was watching some players, wondering if I could pick up a good player or two for the Academy.#
“It costs nothing to go to an event like that, so it is not a problem.”